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FALL EDITION 



1930 




Scientifiction Stories by 



Aladra Septama Cyril G. W ates 

John W. Campbell, Jr. 







Einstein Explained 
in Fiction! 



“THE PRINCE OF LIARS” 

By L. Taylor Hansen 

The big October AMAZING STORIES is 
crowded with many treats too good to miss — and 
one of these is this fascinating story which pene- 
trates, in easily followed paths, the mysteries pro- 
pounded by Einstein. In this beautiful story of 
relativity and the fourth dimension, many of 
your pet theories may be destroyed; but you 
will get so much more in their place that you 
will be well compensated for their loss. 

“SKYLARK THREE” 

By Edward E. Smith , Ph.D. 

Already readers have overwhelmed us with praise 
of this great sequel to "The Skylark of Space.” 
Yet the concluding chapters of this tale of a 
Galactic Cruise which ushered in Universal Civ- 
ilization are even more thrilling. They tran- 
scend description. You must read them for 
yourself. 



“THE MAN FROM THE MOON” 

By Otis Adelbert Kline 

What was the origin of races? Did Yellow, Black 
and White start in similar manner? Here are 
some highly ingenious new ideas for inter-stellar 
warfare and some original explanations of several 
phenomena which are still a matter of conjecture. 

“THE DYNASTY OF THE 
BLUE-BLACK RAYS” 

By Milton R. Peril 

Here is an all-absorbing sto • ot a lost civiliza 
tion and a vanished race, based on fact and 
crowded with scientific adventure. 

“THE MAN WHO SAW THE FUTURE” 

By Edmond Hamilton 

So many amazing inventions are brought out in 
rapid succession today that it seems almost im- 
possible to conceive the fantastic things which 
may startle the world of the future — if only 50 
years hence. Don’t miss this story. 



Enjoy All These Stories in the October 

ONLY . _ ONLY 

s To *?/*: 

^ Buy It Now! 

AMAZING STORIES IS SOLD AT NEWSSTANDS EVERYWHERE 




> :: Fall, 1930 "W 5 

Amazing Stories 



Quarterly 

B, A. Mackinnon. H, K. Fly, Publishers 



Prize Editorial (What Scientifiction Means to Many) 435 

By James E. Suiter 

A Modern Prometheus 

By Cyril G. Wales 

Illustrated by Wesso 

The Black Star Passes 492 

By John W. Campbell, Jr. 

Illustrated by Wesso 

Boomeranging ’Round the Moon 524 

By David H. Keller, M.D, 

Illustrated by Morey 

Terrors of Arelli 530 

By Aladra Septama 

Illustrated by Wesso 

Dr. Immortelle 560 

By Kathleen Luckvoick 

Illustrated by Morey 

s, The Triple Ray 529 J 

% By R. V. Hap pel M 

Editorials from Our Readers 575 

yjSlk Your Viewpoint 576 Jmm 

m iiiusiraiion oy .viorey KgM&mMEffi 

The cover of this issue depicts an un- 
© x P ecte( I development during a battle jjfiW BP 'Opl 
with the enemy, taken from the fflwzl -.-- 
iW isSL story entitled, “The Black Star ■Jmm k 

Passes,” bv John W, Camp- 
ben, Jr. 

October 20, 1930 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY. Published at 1S4-10 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, N. T. Entered as second-class matter at Jamaica, N. Y., under the act of March 3, 1S79. 

Title’ registered XL S. Patent Office. Copyright, 1930, by Radio-Science Publications, Inc. Editorial and Executive Offices, 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City. 
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434 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




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And What Illustrations! 

Profusely — lavishly they crowd the pages. “Everybody Works 
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Address 



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T. O'CONOR SLOANE, Ph D.. Editor MIRIAM BOURNE, Managing Editor 

C. A. BRANDT, Literary Editor WILBUR C. WHITEHEAD, Literary Editor 
Editorial and General Offices; 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City 



What Scientifiction Means to Man 

By James E. Suiter 



M AN exists. Why or to what end, we know not. 
Scientifically we refer to him as the Genus Homo; 
the highest form of life that has evolved from 
that basic element of all living matter — protoplasm. 

For years Man has struggled against the aggressive 
forces of Nature. It would now seem he has conquered. 
The Earth bows itself at his will. He is the ruler supreme 
■ — on his own world. 

Ten million years till the sun dims itself to a dull glow, 
and gees out. So say the astronomers. Ten million years 
for ?-Ian to ring on his mundane bonds and leave a doomed 
world behind. Ten million years in which to attain the 
peak of his earthly destiny. Will he do it? When the sun 
has changed to a red-glowing mass in the heavens — will he 
then be able to leave his ancient home — to follow out a 
chosen future on some - distant star ? That question lies 
with us of today. 

This old world is weary of war. It is ready to do practi- 
cally anything to abolish Mars from his pedestal. Another 
war and it will be glad to do everything. So, as things 
now run, the armies and navies of the world will have 
ceased to exist within fifty years. A hundred years will 
see the nations of the earth under the rule of a single politi- 
cal system. The manufacture of death-dealing weapons 
will have long been forgotten. Man may stop at this 
height of culture or go soaring to undreamt heights. These 
are things for the evolutionists to settle. And now man has 
those ten million years in which to’ advance his civilization 
and, mayhap, to people' the seven (now- eight) remaining 
planets of the solar system. 

But what of the decillion or more other planets cir- 
cling the distant stars, what of the life on them? 
Suppos-e a civilization dwelling on one of these 
takes the offensive against this Man of the 
gi future. There could be but one result ; Man 
would simply cease to exist. And consider- 
ing the fact that he' would be without the 
simplest weapons of warfare, what 
more could one expect? A sudden 
attack out of the blackness of space, 
the metropolises of the world 
destroyed, and the final hunt- 



ing down of the few remaining remnants of humanity: 
that would be the inglorious result of a preceding neglect. 

Such a catastrophe may seem a little too distant, or so 
novel that the mind can not at first realize it. But cold 
reasoning, accompanied by the activities of one’s imagina- 
tion, will show it as not only being quite possible, but also 
with the odds greatly in its favor. And now let us see 
how readily scientifiction fits into this case. 

An appeal made to the nations of the world at the present 
time to retain their armaments on the grounds that such a 
disaster might happen to their descendents would be laughed 
at as foolish imaginings. But let us suppose that in the 
field of literature scientifiction is as well known and as 
widely read as, for instance, the modern detective novel. 
Think of the wholly different light in which the possibility 
would be regarded. No longer would it seem something 
hopelessly imaginary, but a concrete reality, a thing which 
had been encountered and solved countless times in one’s 
explorations into the realms of scientifiction. 

Nor does the utilitarian value of scientifiction necessarily 
cease here. There are countless other examples of its 
benefits to humanity. Let me enumerate one more of 
these, a little reminiscent of the first, perhaps, but to some 
more realistic. 

The statement of Dr. L, O. Howard, former Chief of 
the Bureau of Entomology of the United States Department 
of Agriculture, that the day would come when Man would 
go down in hopeless defeat before the insect hordes, meant 
little to the average citizen. But to those who have read 
scientification, there was a grim meaning in those words. 
They had read of such situations, and knew and could 
fully realize the momentum of that pregnant warning. 

In conclusion I can say that it is only to be 
feared that scientifiction has come to Man too 
late to fully save him from the ever-impending 
attacks of Nature, which are now gathering . 
on the horizon of his existence. But 
even so, it stands out against the black 
background of Fate as a flaming 
torch, symbolizing that greatest of 
human forces, whispered of in 
all ages— Hope. 



PRIZE WINNER 

James E, Suiter, 
751 Bergen Avenue, 
Jersey City, N. J. 
(See page 575)' 






H 



m 






i 



The Next Issue of the Quarterly Will Be on the Newsstands January 20th 



435 



^ Mod ern 
Prometheus 

r HE early alchemists devoted much of their energy to the transmutation of 
metals. In experimenting in this direction, by the most empiric methods, 
they did develop a lot of chemistry, but were deplorably lacking in theory. 
Strange things are going on in the series of the elements, and it may be that chem- 
ists are now on the verge of transmutation. Any approaches to it, curiously 
enough, lie among the metals. Allotropism brings us pretty near to transmuta- 
tion, for, to take a classic example, by subjecting the beautiful diamond to in- 
tense heat it can be converted into precisely the same weight of unattractive coke. 
The changing of one form of carbon into another, diamonds into coke, certainly 
comes pretty close to the goal. It does not seem impossible, therefore, that chem- 
ists may, within a few years, carry out the dream of the alchemist. But when that 
dream is realized — what then? Mr. Wales, who was first introduced to AMAZING 
STORIES as the prize winner in our first cover contest, has consistently maintained, 
his original high standard of scientific fiction, and in this story, “A Modern 
Prometheus,” brings us not only entertainment and science, but also instructive 
information in diversified fields. It is an excellent complete science novel. 



Prologue 

H IGH on the Palisades, which guard the Hudson 
River, stood a great house. Every detail of its 
architecture, every feature of its environment, 
gave evidence of wealth, combined with a keen sense of 
beauty and artistic fitness, as admirable as it was rare, 
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Perhaps the 
building or its extensive grounds might not have found 
favor in the eyes of the idle rich of those times, hide- 
bound as they were by millenniums of conventions and 
prejudices, but this was not the twentieth century. It 
was the end of the twenty-second; to be exact, the 
early summer of 2189 A.D. Tastes change as the 
years pass, and if the Eyrie, as it was called, suited 
John Ballantyne, surely it would have been in the 
worst of taste for a millionaire of the twentieth cen- 
tury to criticise it, even had any such been there to do 
so — which there was not ! 

The Eyrie was rambling, extensive, and one story in 
height throughout, but that single story was far more 
spacious than anything a New Yorker of two hundred 
years previously had ever seen. The entire structure 
consisted of groups and colonnades of vast pillars, each 
joined to the adjacent ones by panels or walls, the whole 
being decorated with such consummate artistry that it 
conveyed an impression of delicacy and lightness, which 
contrasted surprisingly with the size and massiveness 
of the building. 

An observer approaching the mansion would not 
have been justified in supposing the material of which 
it was constructed to be otherwise than what it ap- 



peared to be — stone — and would have marveled at the 
skill with which such an intractable material had been 
carved into the similitude of innumerable natural and 
artificial objects, each resplendent in its appropriate 
colors. Flowering vines twined around the great pil- 
lars; birds of many species ornamented the capitals 
and pilasters, and the walls were brilliant with geo- 
metrical designs, executed in every hue of the rainbow. 

A closer examination by a twentieth century ob- 
server would, however, have revealed the surprising fact 
that if the building were of stone, it was some stone 
hitherto unknown to the mason. The surface varied in 
texture in accordance with the purpose for which it was 
used, the pillars possessing the polish of glass and the 
translucency of onyx, the vegetation being of a dull 
smoothness, and the feathers of the birds velvety and 
shimmering. Nowhere was to be found the coarse grit- 
tiness usually associated with building stone. 

Stranger still, the walls were unbroken by either 
door or window. Having no visible means of entrance 
or source of light, one would have supposed the entire 
structure to be some immense mausoleum, some greater 
and more glorious Taj Mahal, but for the presence of 
several smaller buildings amongst the trees: garages 
for automobiles and hangars for planes. Indeed, with 
its apparent absence of light and air, the main building 
would seem to be little better than a very ornate prison. 

The gardens, which surrounded the mansion on three 
sides, were in the full splendor of their summer loveli- 
ness. Except for the winding pathways, it was hard 
to realize that the hand of man had ever been laid 
upon this riotous wilderness of bloom and verdure. 



436 




By 

Cyril G. Wates 

Author of “ The Visitation,” 

“ The Face of Isis,” etc. 

Illustrated by WESSO 



In the light front the reflectors , the 
shadowy Something materialized , , , 
fully fifty feet in length , j 



437 





438 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



There was no attempt at segregating plants into beds 
or borders. There were none of the hideous monstros- 
ities which were so much admired in the nineteenth 
century under the name of “lawns,” torture fields in 
which the tender grass-plants, instead of being merci- 
fully killed outright, as today when they are needed for 
food, were repeatedly beheaded in close proximity to 
the roots; a form of cruelty only to be explained by 
complete ignorance of the obvious fact that plants are 
living, feeling beings. 

The sky was overcast and a soft rain was falling, 
veiling the distant hills in tenuous mist, through which 
could be seen the silvery shimmer of an approaching 
plane. With incredible swiftness it drew near until it 
was directly on a level with the Eyrie and then, after 
hovering for a moment, dropped like a plummet to the 
base of the cliffs. Just above where the plane had 
landed, a small promontory was occupied by a protrud- 
ing wing of the main building, semicircular in form. 

The interior of this wing was furnished with severe 
plainness. A large desk occupied the center of the 
straight side of the room, and seated at the desk was 
a man absorbed in study. He was in the prime of life, 
certainly not a day over eighty years of age, and his 
black hair was combed back and parted on both sides 
in the modern fashion, revealing a forehead unmarked 
by the passage of time, but at this moment contracted 
into a frown as he turned the pages of the report he 
was reading. 

A soft light filtered through the walls and ceiling, 
flooding the room with pearly luminescence. Outside, 
the storm was passing away and the light in the room 
grew stronger as the wind dispersed the mist, but John 
Ballantyne remained buried in his papers until a sud- 
den burst of sunshine poured over his desk like a 
golden flood and caused him to raise his head. 

With a sigh, he pushed his papers to one side and, 
reaching behind him, pressed a button. Instantly the 
walls seemed to melt away, until they were far more 
transparent than the finest glass, upon which stood out 
the fairylike tracery of the exterior decorations. The 
sun was driving the rain before it down the valley and 
dozens of pleasure planes began to rise in all directions 
into the clear air. 

J OHN BALLANTYNE placed a weight on his papers 
and touched another button. With startling sud- 
denness, the transparent panels which formed the walls 
vanished into the interior of the pillars, leaving no trace 
of their presence. The whole room was converted into 
an open pavilion, through which the cool breezes blew 
unchecked. Ballantyne drew his purple tunic over his 
shoulders and walked across to where the floor ran out 
to the little promontory, terminating flush with the 
mighty cliffs of the Palisades. He stood for some min- 
utes looking towards the west. Then he started back 
with an exclamation as his ankle was seized by a sinewy 
hand. Following the hand, appeared a curly brown 
head, a laughing face, and a pair of muscular shoulders, 
belonging to a young man who completed his perilous 
ascent of the cliff by turning a handspring into the 
middle of the room. 

“Scared you that time, didn’t I, Dad?” 

“How many times have I asked you not to fool 
around on these cliffs, Raoul?” said his father, with 
some show of anger, “and how often have I told you 
not to call me by that prehistoric appellation?” 

“About as often as I’ve asked you not to call me 
Raoul, I guess!” replied the young man, good- 
humoredly. 

“That’s different,” replied his father. “Your sister 
calls you that and we’ve all got into the habit, I sup- 
pose. Personally I like it!” 



“Yes, and personally, I like ‘Dad’,” laughed the boy, 
and then, seeing a shadow on the older man’s face, he 
continued impetuously: “Sorry, John, but I didn’t know 
you objected so strongly. I guess I like ‘Dad’ just 
because it’s old-fashioned. I’ll try to break myself 
of it.” 

“I don’t know where you get your craze for old- 
fashioned things,” said his father, not altogether molli- 
fied. “You can’t seem to get it through your head that 
you’re living in modern times, not in the days of 
George the Fifth and Coolidge, or whoever it v r as at 
the time of the Revolution!” 

“Those old fellows back in the twentieth century 
were wise to a few things we don’t know, John,” said 
the boy, seriously. “They were as far ahead of us in 
science as we are ahead of them in commerce and art.” 

“I don’t want to start an argument, Raoul,” said his 
father. “Come and sit down. I’ve wished for some 
time to have a serious talk with you and the present 
will do as well as later.” 

Seated at his desk, John Ballantyne sat for some 
moments in silence, studying his only son with thought- 
ful eyes, in which there was not a little pride and ad- 
miration. Raoul was such a fine specimen of young 
manhood as he stood there. He had thrown back his 
crimson flexifer tunic, revealing the torso of a young 
Apollo. Golden sandals and crimson breeches com- 
pleted the costume of a typical young man of the time. 
Physically he w T as a representative of the coming gen- 
eration. What curious throwback was responsible for 
his strange, old-fashioned tastes? 

Some such thoughts passed across the mind of the 
older man. He knew from bitter experience that his 
son had inherited from him an inflexible will which, 
in the past, he had attempted to bend to his own wishes 
many times without success. He felt that now, for the 
last time, he must present his arguments as persua- 
sively as possible or forever give up the hopes which 
had centered themselves in his son for so many years. 
The bizarre notion that parents possessed some divine 
right to mould their children’s lives into any pattern 
which pleased them was first questioned in the nine- 
teenth century. In the twentieth it was discarded as 
a theory although often followed in practice, but in the 
last two hundred years, known to us as the Age of 
Social Enlightenment, it had been relegated to the 
limbo of forgotten things, together with such prehis- 
toric fantasies as Unemployment and Mortgages. 

Thus, when John Ballantyne addressed his son, it 
was as man to man. To have assumed an attitude of 
paternal authority would have been to yield to the 
same weakness for old-fashioned ideas which he had 
deprecated in his son. 

“You are fond of me, Raoul?” he queried at last. 

“Why, of course !” replied the young man, in surprise. 
“You know I think there’s no one like you, John.” 

“Yes, I know that,” nodded his father. “But what I 
can’t comprehend is that in spite of your proven affec- 
tion for your sister and myself, you still insist in 
frittering away your life in worthless pursuits.” 

Raoul was about to reply, but his father restrained 
him with uplifted hand. 

“Let me have my say, Raoul. It’s for the last time. 
I know what you were going to tell me, that ten or 
twelve hours a day in the laboratory is hardly fritter- 
ing away time. In that I must differ from you. We 
read of people in past centuries who spent their time 
knitting in spite of the fact that such work could be 
done far better and more cheaply by machinery. As a 
casual amusement, persons of defective mentality might 
be excused for indulging in it, but as a life work, I think 
you will agree 'with me that knitting was, as I have 
said, frittering away one’s life.” 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



439 



“Of course, but what has knitting to do with me, 
John?” 

“Just this, Raoul, that like the chemistry and elec- 
tricity of which you are so fond, it was a useless waste 
of time; well enough as a hobby but of no possible 
benefit to the world. Two hundred years ago or more 
men believed that there was no limit to the advancement 
of science, not realizing that, like explorers on an 
island, they had reached the ultimate shores of dis- 
covery. We know better today. We know that the 
limits of useful progress along scientific lines were 
reached centuries ago and that it is only to the field 
of social advancement that there are no boundaries.” 

“I will never believe that, John!” exclaimed Raoul, 
his face flushing. “Just because the study of science 
was practically abandoned in the face of the crying 
need for Social Advancement, is no proof that all the 
great seentific discoveries have been made. The world 
has always been like that. Progress has never been 
steady and continuous, but by leaps and bounds, with 
intervals of stagnation, like the flow of a mountain 
stream. It was only natural that after the Electrical 
Age, which culminated in the perfecting of Aviation 
and Television, the pendulum should swing in the 
other direction for a time and men should turn their 
thoughts inward. Art, psychology, the social sciences 
have been the chief study of mankind for two hun- 
dred years, but I will never admit that the fields of 
chemistry and electricity have been exhausted.” 

“This is barren discussion, Raoul,” interposed his 
father, impatiently, “and will get us nowhere. If you 
feel the necessity of some hobby as an intellectual 
stimulus, I should be the last to object. The source 
of my unhappiness — for I will admit I am unhappy — 
lies in the fact that you, who have boundless oppor- 
tunities for the advancement of your fellow men, re- 
fuse to accept your responsibilities. As my son, you 
fall heir to the greatest iron industries in the world 
today. The happiness of a billion human beings will 
be in your hands, their homes, their clothing, their 
transportation, even to some extent their food, comes 
from the Ballantyne iron mines. Yet you, with a 
century of useful life before you, persist in following 
that will-o’-the-wisp, Science!” 

“I’m sorry, John. I wish, for your sake, that I 
could do as you ask, but I should be false to my con- 
victions if I dropped my scientific investigations now. 
What old Polonius said nearly a thousand years ago 
is just as applicable today. ‘To thine own self be true, 
and it shall follow, as the night the day, thou canst 
not then be false to any man.’ I believe that science 
holds greater gifts to mankind than any she has re- 
vealed in past ages and I must obey my call.” 

“You must be off your head!” cried his father, 
angrily. “Insane — in a time when insanity is as obso- 
lete as cancer and woolen clothes and — and science. 
Even in your sports you are an eccentric! Mountain 
climbing! I’ll admit there are a few wild young men 
and women who think it a sign of extraordinary phys- 
ical development to indulge in it, but when you carry 
it to the extreme of self-destruction, you are simply a 
suicidal maniac! Look at your face! In these times, 
when beauty of feature and perfection of physique are 
a universal ideal, you are a disgrace to our family. Do 
you wonder that your sister hesitates to bring her 
friends to the Eyrie when you are here!” 

Raoul flushed deeply, the scars on his face standing 
- out white against the crimson. He drew his tunic over 
h*r shoulders as though to hide the blush of anger which 
spread over his shoulders and chest. 

“I’m sorry you feel that w T ay, John,” he said, quietly. 
“I’ll not trouble you with my presence any longer. Per- 
haps some day I shall be able to convince you that I 



am right, and when that time comes, I’ll come back. 
Goodbye, Dad,” and he walked across the room and 
disappeared over the edge of the cliff. 

For some time John Ballantyne sat motionless at his 
desk. His anger gradually ebbed, leaving nothing but 
the desire to retain his son at any price. After all, 
there was room for all kinds of people in the world and 
perhaps, if he removed his objections and gave Raoul a 
free hand to follow his bent, he would tire of his insane 
pursuit of science and take his rightful place as head 
of the great International Ferrous Products Organiza- 
tion. 

The hum of a motor broke the silence and Raoul’s 
plane leaped up past the Eyrie on its vertical ascent to 
the upper air lanes used by west-bound traffic. John 
Ballantyne reached across the desk and switched on the 
visophone. After a brief interval the figure of his 
son appeared on the screen in stereoscopic relief, his 
crimson tunic blown back by the wind coming through 
the open front of the plane. Raoul’s brown eyes were 
turned towards his as the chime of the visophone on 
the dashboard of the plane drew his attention. 

“Come back, my son !” exclaimed the father, his hand 
outstretched, as if he could grasp that of the image. 
Raoul's scarred face changed, his lips parting in a wist- 
ful smile, but he spoke no word. Then he shook his 
head slowly, regretfully. His hand reached out to the 
control-switch, and a moment later John Ballantyne was 
staring at the dark screen of the instrument. Jump- 
ing from his chair, he hurried to the western opening. 
The sun was touching the horizon, a disc of fiery splen- 
dor. A rapidly diminishing speck, silhouetted against 
that blinding glory, growing ever smaller to invisibility, 
was John Ballantyne’s last glimpse of his son. 



CHAPTER I 

The Workshop in the Mountains 

G EOFFREY YON ELMAR sighed with weari- 
ness as he straightened up from the bench 
over which he had been leaning for more 
than six hours. There is a limit to the strain 
which even the finest organization and the 
steadiest nerves can endure, and the long period of un- 
remitting attention which w r as necessary for the deli- 
cate experiment in w'hich he had been engaged, had 
strained both to the breaking point. Six hours of mi- 
croscopic manipulation and the result — nil ! The whole 
thing must be done all over again. 

The room in which Von Elmar had been working was 
fitted out with elaborate equipment for carrying on sci- 
entific research work, but it would have been hard to 
say for what particular branch of science the equip- 
ment was designed. The laboratory was very large. 
At one end were benches and shelves containing stills, 
pipettes, test tubes, electric heaters, sand baths and all 
the thousand utensils necessary for the pursuit of 
chemistry. Adjacent to this were other benches bear- 
ing microscopes, polariscopes, tiny cutting instruments 
of all kinds— in fact everything that w 7 ould be needed 
to carry on research work in organic chemistry, bac- 
teriology and even surgery. It was here that Geoffrey 
Yon Elmar had been working. 

Along the wall was a row of cabinets containing in- 
numerable geological specimens, but apart from this, 
the whole of the remaining space was filled with every 
conceivable kind of electric apparatus. It would be im- 
possible to describe in detail, or even to catalogue, the 
enormous collection of devices, ranging from exploring 
coils and electron tubes, to gigantic transformers and 
ferrovertei's. 



440 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



The room was warm and Von Elmar had been work- 
ing without his tunic for comfort and freedom of mo- 
tion. As he stretched his stiff muscles and yawned 
cavernously, he stood revealed as a tremendously power- 
ful man with a development of chest and shoulders 
quite exceptional in an age that was noted for beauty 
and symmetry rather than for great strength. His 
face, which showed him to be in early manhood, would 
have been altogether likeable in its frankness and good 
nature but for the disfigurement of a jagged white 
line which traversed one cheek from, the ear to the 
corner of the mouth ; evidently the scar of some terrible 
injury. 

Geoffrey picked up his tunic of somber brown and 
flung it over his shouders. Striding across the room to 
the only vacant wall, he pressed a switch. The panels 
slid apart noiselessly, revealing a scene of such wild 
magnificence that, familiar as it was to him, he could 
not suppress a slight drawing in of the breath. 

He stepped out upon a narrow balcony with an iron 
railing and stood looking down into an airy gulf, above 
which he seemed to hang poised, like an eagle in full 
flight. A great valley, slashed through the heart of a 
mighty mountain range, the knife that had carved it 
still lying two thousand feet below, a glittering river 
of ice. Five miles away the peaks clustered together 
as though for companionship, lifting their hoary heads 
into the cloudless sky, their rugged gray shoulders 
forming a gigantic amphitheater, filled with a spotless 
field of eternal snow, from which blue icefalls cascaded 
downwards over crevasse and serac to feed the insa- 
tiable glacier. 

The building of which the laboratory formed a part 
was constructed upon the face of a sheer cliff, which 
constituted one of the retaining walls of the glacier. 
The rear of the structure rested upon a natural ledge, 
but the greater part overhung the void, sustained by- 
great steel girders whose lower ends fitted into diagonal 
notches cut in the rock a hundred feet below. There 
seemed no possible means of access to this aerial 
workshop except by plane, although a closer inspection 
would have revealed the presence of an elevator cage 
hanging by cables below the balcony. 

The suave curves of the snowfields were beginning 
to flush with the rosy hues of sunset. Geoffrey turned 
his eyes towards the southeast. Presently his vigilance 
was rewarded by the sight of a small plane which came 
towards him at a great height. It cleared the summits 
of the opposite range, came swooping across the valley, 
hovered a moment on its sustaining helices and then 
dropped gracefully into the cradle provided for it at 
one end of the building. 

A young man stepped out of the pilot’s seat and 
waved to Von Elmar. 

“Come and give me a hand with this stuff, Geoff!” 
he called as he started to unload sundry boxes from the 
rear compartment of the plane. 

The newcomer resembled Geoffrey in stature and 
complexion but there the resemblance ceased. He was 
dark while Geoffrey was fair. He was graceful and 
agile, while Geoffrey was powerful and heavy. Instead 
of Geoffrey’s knotted muscles, he possessed the smooth 
skin of the athlete and his regular features were with- 
out a blemish. In the old days, Ralph Morton and his 
friend Geoffrey Von Elmar might have posed for 
statues of Greek gods: Hermes and Vulcan. 

As Geoff approached the plane, another man stepped 
out, a little man whose yellow skin and slant eyes 
bespoke Oriental birth. 

This is Dr. Ota Umetaro,* Geoff. I met him in 
Denver and brought him along to help with the cell- 
growth experiments.” 

*Pr. O-tah OO-may-tah-ro. Ang. Plum Blossom. 



Umetaro’s handshake was accompanied by the slight 
bow and the restrained smile which in the Japanese 
gentleman combined friendliness, dignity and reticence. 

“Your wish, Sir! I look forward with pleasure to 
working with scientists of such distinction,” he said. 

“Scarcely ‘distinction,’ Dr. Umetaro,” said Ralph 
Morton, smiling, “since we are obliged to keep our small 
accomplishments to ourselves. If what we are trying 
to do became public, we should be more notorious than 
distinguished.” 

“Nevertheless, I crave your honored permission to 
adhere to my original word. The great world would 
indeed condemn your efforts in no uncertain terms, but 
there are a few here and there who secretly rebel 
against the dogma that our scientific knowledge is com- 
plete ; that nothing must be either added to it or taken 
from it. To these rebels, scattered and yet united, 
among whom I am proud to number myself, you two 
gentlemen are, as I have said, distinguished.” 

Von Elmar was delighted with the courtly and yet 
frank manner of their new associate. Dr. Umetaro 
was a typical citizen of the Japanese Division, where, 
in spite of the almost universal intermarriage which 
had spread over the world in the last century, the old 
blood of the Samurai had been kept practically pure. 
He was built for speed and lightness, like a whippet, 
and his costume, although similar to that which was 
worn throughout the w-orld, displayed the elaborate em- 
broidery and brilliant colors beloved by all Orientals. 

T HE three men finished unloading the boxes of sup- 
plies, which Ralph had brought from Denver, and 
then moved along the balcony towards the laboratory. 
The doctor was enthusiastic over the unique location 
of this aerial workshop and the magnificence of the 
surrounding scenery. It was his first visit to the 
Canadian Rockies, and for once his admiration broke 
the bounds of his habitual reserve. 

“To devote your lives to the advancement of science, 
that is courage !” he exclaimed. “But to choose a para- 
dise like this for your work — ah! but that is genius! 
When every experiment fails; when every line of rea- 
soning leads to a blank wall of discouragement; to be 
able to step out upon this balcony and draw new in- 
spiration from the eternal peaks — what happiness! 
Gentlemen, you are to be congratulated !” 

They entered the great laboratory and again the 
Japanese savant gave voice to unstinted praise for the 
completeness and ingenuity of the equipment. Ralph 
and Geoffrey took him on a tour of inspection, lingering 
here and there over some instrument or machine which 
displayed some novel feature which was the result of 
their investigations. 

In the organic section, Dr. Umetaro again burst forth 
into delighted exclamations. 

“Wonderful! Splendid! You have thought of and 
provided for every detail. Necleatromes, Chromosome- 
Separators — Ah! but what is this?” he asked, stop- 
ping in front of an elaborate machine which combined 
a pair of eyepieces, like a binocular microscope, with a 
complicated arrangement of coils, condensers and 
vacuum tubes. 

“A little idea of Geoff’s, Doctor,” said Ralph. “We 
call it the Atomoscope. Tell him about it, Geoff.” 

“I’m afraid it hasn’t lived up to its name so far, Dr. 
Umetaro. As you can guess, it’s a kind of ultra- 
microscope for studying atomic structure. Instead of 
light, we use an extremely short-wave oscillatory cur- 
rent. The waves are reflected from the object be" 1 # 
examined and then amplified, after passing througn a 
scanning disc. The amplified current is then brought 
to this Glaucon Tube, the light from which passes 
through another synchronized scanning disc to the 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



441 



eyepiece. It isn’t perfect yet by any means. We 
haven’t been able to see atoms, but we’ve got a mag- 
nification of several million diameters; plenty to study 
the internal structure of chromosomes, which was our 
real object.” 

The Japanese doctor was watching Geoffrey Von 
Elmar , with kindly eyes as he talked, as much inter- 
ested in the speaker as in his invention. The unas- 
suming way in which the young expert divided the 
credit for his work with his companion and the light 
which diffused his ugly, scarred face were enough to 
convince the doctor that here was something more 
than a scientist : a loyal friend. 

After supper, which was prepared by Geoffrey and 
served on the balcony, the two young men showed their 
new associate over the rest of the building — the store- 
rooms filled with every conceivable kind of material for 
scientific research; the sleeping quarters on the roof; 
the transformer room where the power waves from the 
great station on the Athabasca River was picked up 
and converted to the voltage required for lighting the 
building and operating the machinery; and the ele- 
vator by which they could descend to the surface of 
the glacier for ski-ing and other exercise which was a 
part of the daily routine. 

“Not that Ralph makes much use of the elevator,” 
remarked Geoff. “He prefers his private stairway,” 
and he pointed downwards to a series of natural 
cracks and ledges in the face of the sheer limestone 
cliff ; a perilous ladder by which an active and fearless 
climber might make his way up or down. 

Later, when they were seated on the balcony, with 
their pipes, watching a full moon turning the solemn 
peaks into a glistening fairy castle, Ralph asked the 
Doctor a question which had been in his mind ever 
since the Japanese had approached him in the ro- 
tunda of the Hotel Colorado, in Denver. 

“How did you find out that Von Elmar and I were 
engaged in scientific work out here, Dr. Umetaro?” he 
asked. “We thought we had been successful in con- 
cealing our plans from everyone. We have posed as 
wealthy young mountain climbers who have a flair for 
solitude. Yet, from hints you have dropped at vari- 
ous times today, it would seem that our object in iso- 
lating ourselves in the mountains is public property. 
And then, who are these ‘rebels’ of whom you speak? 
Surely no political organization is planning a revolu- 
tion such as we read about in old books?” 

The Doctor puffed at his pipe thoughtfully. 

“Have you young gentlemen specialized in history, 
by any chance?” he asked presently. 

“I can tell you the date of the International Amal- 
gamation,” said Ralph, laughing. “That’s my limit.” 

“Read a book called ‘Hereward the Wake’ a long time 
ago,” said Geoff. “All about a fellow named Harold. 
One of the early presidents, I think. Had his eye 
punched out.” 

“Then it is certainly time that your education along 
those lines was improved. In order to answer the ques- 
tions you have asked, Mr. Morton, I must tell you some- 
thing of what has been taking place in the world dur- 
ing the last three hundred years. Have you the pa- 
tience to listen to a lecture on ancient history ? I think 
I can promise to make it interesting.” 

CHAPTER II 
The World in 1950 

cc j ip JET- 

, | ^HREE hundred years ago,” said Dr. Umetaro, 
1 “the reading public were greatly interested in 
books dealing with the future development of the 
world. To meet this demand, a tremendous amount of 



literature was produced, some commonplace, some im- 
aginative, much of it far-fetched and sensational in 
the extreme. But no matter how unreal and impossible 
a book might be, if it dealt with the ‘days to come,’ 
the author was sure of a favorable reception. 

“Amid this mass of reading matter, there were two 
books which enjoyed a popularity probably in excess 
of any other. At least, one would judge that this was 
the case from the immense number of copies which 
were sold. The first of these was written about 1890 
by Edward Bellamy, whose fame as an author rests 
almost entirely upon this one book. It was entitled 
‘Looking Backward’ and it predicts the future of the 
world in the year 2000. The second book to which I 
refer appeared about thirty years later. It was called 
‘When the Sleeper Wakes’ and was written by H. G. 
Wells, a prolific author of novels and imaginative ro- 
mances in the English Division. 

“These two books resemble each other in the use of 
a similar device for producing an effect of realism in 
the mind of the reader, namely, a sleeper who awakes 
in a new world after a prolonged period of unconscious- 
ness and describes what he sees, contrasting it with 
the conditions he left behind when he fell asleep.” 

“Excuse me, Doctor,” interrupted Geoffrey. “You 
say this Bellamy wrote his book about 1890 and that 
he described conditions in 2000? That’s a hundred 
and ten years. I don’t quite understand why he would 
need to introduce a ‘sleeper’ in his book. A young 
man — say twenty — — ” 

“You’re forgetting we’ve doubled the average life 
span since then, Geoff,” said Ralph. “Seventy was old 
age in the nineteenth century, wasn’t it, Doctor?” 

“Of course, I should have known that!” ejaculated 
Geoff. “Go on, Dr. Umetaro. I won’t interrupt again.” 

“Please do not hesitate to do so,” said the Japanese, 
smiling. “I am very desirous that you should under- 
stand the meaning of conditions as we find them today, 
because I foresee that you gentlemen are to play a 
prominent part in world events in the near future.” 

“Why, Doctor! What makes you say that?” ex- 
claimed Ralph. 

“The answer lies hid in your own hearts,” answered 
the Japanese, with a little upward gesture. “Well, to 
continue. I have spoken of these two pseudo-prophetic 
books with their sleepers. It is safe to say that thou- 
sands of people in those far-off times really thought 
such books foretold the progress of the world with a 
fair degree of accuracy, and yet, if Bellamy and Wells 
could have taken the place of their principal characters 
and awakened in the year 2000, I am certain they would 
have received the shock of their lives, not because of the 
tremendous changes with which they would find them- 
selves surrounded, but rather because a casual inspec- 
tion or even a careful examination would fail to show 
that the world today is any different from what it 
was in 1900. Not that it is the same — we know how 
deep-rooted the changes are — but simply that the trans- 
formation does not appear on the surface. 

“Bellamy, the earlier writer, would be most impressed 
with the visible signs of progress, but it would be a sad 
shock to his powers of prophecy to find that the ma- 
terial and scientific advance which he predicted for the 
year 2000 had been reached and far surpassed, before 
a third of that time had elapsed. Wells, however, would 
most certainly be sadly disappointed to find people still 
doing their traveling in trains, airplanes and motor 
cars, little if any difference from those to which he was 
accustomed during his lifetime. But I’m getting ahead 
of my story. 

“What I have said will perhaps convey the correct 
impression that people in those times were convinced 
that they were on the verge of a great transformation ; 



442 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



that Utopia was about to arrive, all complete to the 
smallest detail and done up in a neat package with a 
ribbon around it, without any special effort on their 
part. Early in the twentieth century occurred one of 
those ghastly upheavals which form so large a part of 
the history of the old world. It was known as ‘The 
War to End Wars’ and although millions of men, yes, 
and women too, gave their lives for a cause which, to 
say the best, was less unjust than most, the survivors 
soon found that so far from ending wars, this great 
shambles had served only to whet the appetite of the 
war-makers. 

“Although for many years after, no great war took 
place, the facts go to show that the governments of 
the world, of which there was an infinite variety, were 
simply waiting for a new generation to arise to supply 
what was described with gruesome humor as ‘cannon 
fodder.’ While the ranks of the people were pacified 
with great peace demonstrations and disarmament 
treaties, the energies of most governments were being 
concentrated on devising new and more horrible meth- 
ods of warfare.” 

T was Ralph who interrupted this time. 

“But I don’t understand, Doctor,” he said, wrin- 
kling his brows. “You speak of ‘the ranks of the people’ 
who seemed to desire peace, and ‘the governments’ 
which were set on war. Surely most of the countries 
in those days were more or less democratic. That 
would mean that there was no essential difference be- 
tween the ‘governments’ and the ‘people.’ ” 

“You are right, Sir. Morton,” said the Japanese. 
“Just as there is no essential difference between a man 
breathing mountain air and a man breathing pure 
oxygen, but we know that in the latter case, the most 
phlegmatic man becomes a veritable demon of energy. 
As soon as a man was removed from the ‘ranks of the 
people’ and became a member of the government, he 
found himself enclosed in an atmosphere of distrust 
and pugnacity. Governments rarely, if ever, deliberately 
planned war. It was an essential part of an artificial 
system. It was one of the rules of the game that 
the only way of atoning for a so-called slur on national 
honor, was by slaughtering as many of your fellow-men 
as possible. It would have been cowardly murder to 
stab your neighbor in the back because he claimed 
that your fence was a foot on his property, but it was 
an act of the highest courage to shoot a thousand 
fellow-men from ambush, because their government 
claimed that the international boundary line was in the 
wrong place. And the curious thing is that no one 
seemed to realize the fallacy of this line of reasoning!” 

“What a horrible business it must have been!” ex- 
claimed Geoffrey. “How could men go out for the de- 
liberate purpose of killing each other — practically in 
cold blood, too?” 

“It’s not the actual killing that turns my stomach,” 
said his friend. “After all, a man can die only once. 
It’s the state of mind which made such killing and 
maiming right or even possible that seems so ghastly!” 

Dr. Umetaro nodded. 

“You’re right, Mr. Morton. You have laid your finger 
on the root of the matter. People in those days didn’t 
really believe that war did any good. War was a habit 
with them; a habit whose antiquity made it the more 
difficult to shake off. As they would have expressed 
it, Mankind had a war ‘complex’. But let us be just. 
War has two good marks to its credit. It produced 
a type of self-sacrifice and courage unexcelled and per- 
haps unequalled today, and it contributed enormously 
to the advancement of science.” 

“Oh! come, Doctor!” exclaimed Ralph. “That’s going 
a bit far. I can well believe your first statement, but 



that war, the very essence of destruction, could advance 
science, the epitome of progress, is pretty hard to 
swallow!” 

“Nevertheless, it is the naked truth. You must re- 
member that the war-makers of the Nations were 
keenly alert to acquire any new device which would 
help either directly or indirectly in butchering their 
enemies. With unlimited funds at their command, these 
Governments were able to offer powerful incentives to 
inventors and scientists. As a single example, you 
know that the problem of flight was solved by the 
famous Wright brothers early in the twentieth century, 
but perhaps you are not aware that little progress was 
made in aviation until the ‘War to End Wars’ broke 
out. More actual advance was made in the art and 
science of flight during the four years of that contest, 
than in the quarter-centuries preceding it. 

“As I have said, this great war was followed by a 
period of what in those times passed for peace, a 
period of nearly fifty years unmarked by any but 
minor disturbances, hardly worthy of the name of wars. 
This half-century brought forth three great discoveries 
— television, the wireless transmission of power, and, 
last and greatest of all, the transmutation of iron. 
You have only to read the books of the period to realize 
the tremendous influence which these three inventions 
had in transforming the face of the earth. The per- 
fecting of television with all its ramifications, was 
the last link in the chain which was to bind the world 
into one great union of friendly communities. The 
wireless transmission of power solved the last diffi- 
culty in the way of universal conquest of the air. As 
to the transmutation of iron, that epoch-making dis- 
covery was so totally unexpected and so immediate in 
its effects that we, today, can hardly conceive the 
magnitude of the changes that it wrought. 

“Early in the year 1952, a student in the University 
of Chicago was engaged in preparing his graduation 
thesis. He had chosen for his subject ‘Allotropism in 
Carbon and Sulphur,’ It had long been known that 
these two elements appeared in several utterly dis- 
similar forms. Nothing can be more unlike than the 
diamond, graphite, and charcoal, yet all three are pure 
carbon. Sulphur also appears in two or more forms. 
Little or nothing was known to account for these 
strange phenomena and scientists contented them- 
selves with vague statements about molecular arrange- 
ments, little suspecting that in allotropism lay hidden 
a power which was to transform the face of the earth. 

“This young student’s name was Walter Ballantyne. 
He was the ancestor of John Ballantyne, who controls 
the iron industries of the world today. One day while 
working in the laboratory with a sample of charcoal, 
he happened to place the porcelain dish containing it 
near the terminals of a very powerful transformer 
connected with the wireless power aerial. When he 
returned from an adjacent room, where he had gone 
to fetch a microscope, he found in place of the pinch 
of black powder he had left, a hard, semi-transparent 
lump. In a word, the charcoal had been converted into 
diamond by the inductive action of the current. 

“Ballantyne’s excitement can be imagined. He re- 
peated the experiment more than once and did not rest 
until he had established the exact conditions under 
which the transformation took place. In those days 
the diamond was extremely valuable and most young 
men having by accident tapped a mine of inexhaustible 
wealth, would have dropped science then and there, to 
take up a life of idleness and luxury. Not so Walter 
Ballantyne. Feeling that he was on the verge o£-^<»ie 
basic discovery, he flung himself into his work with 
renewed energy. Success followed success. Soon he was 
able to produce all the allotropic forms of carbon and 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 443 



sulphur at will, besides several hitherto unknown, such 
as fibrilite, a form of carbon capable of being drawn 
into threads as fine as silk and possessing over one 
hundred times the tensile strength of steel wire. 

“It was the discovery of fibrilite that made Ballan- 
tyne turn his attention to other elements in the hope 
of producing new forms of allotropism. With the ex- 
ception of a few' minor and valueless changes in cobalt 
and nickel he got no results until he tried iron. If he 
had been astonished at the transformation of charcoal 
into diamond, what must have been his feelings when 
he found iron filings converted info a colorless liquid 
and again into a fabric as soft as velvet and crimson 
in hue. 

“Experiment after experiment was successful beyond 
his wildest dreams. Whether it was the unique mag- 
netic properties of iron which rendered it peculiarly 
susceptible to change we know no more today than 
Walter Ballantyne did tw 7 o hundred years ago, but the 
fact remained that this element seemed as flexible as 
clay to the magic process of allotropism. One is re- 
minded of the old chemists who took a pot of tar and 
produced from it all the infinite hues of the rainbow 
in aniline dyes. 

“Ballantyne built a special group of transformers, 
the parent of the gigantic ferroverters of today, and 
began to experiment in earnest. He found that by 
suitable combinations of power he was able to repro- 
duce in iron all the qualities which had heretofore 
been regarded as strictly inherent in other substances. 
Hardness, malleability, tensile strength, weight, color, 
transparency, even taste and odor, could be imparted 
to iron separately or in any combination, in the in- 
finite diversity of its allotropic forms. In short, there 
was no substance known to mankind which could not 
be replaced to advantage by some transmuted form 
of this master element, iron. 

“When he had definitely determined the broad basic 
principle governing the various transformations, then, 
and not until then, Walter Ballantyne turned his at- 
tention to the practical side of his great discovery. 
He had kept his investigations entirely secret, and when 
they W'ere concluded he seems to have dropped them 
completely and devoted much thought to the best way 
of giving the results to the world. He did nothing in 
haste, but when he finally acted, he displayed the keen 
business acumen which has been the outstanding char- 
acteristic of the family ever since. 

“/"\NE day in early summer, a dark-haired young 
man of quiet, studious demeanor presented him- 
self at the New York office of the Pan-American Steel 
and Iron Company and asked for the president. He 
was, of course, refused admittance — great financiers 
in those days had a quite extraordinary idea of their 
own importance and cherished a notion that they added 
to their dignity by making themselves inaccessible. The 
quiet young man was not at all discouraged. He took 
out his notebook and scribbled a brief message which 
he handed to the secretary with the request that it be 
carried to the great man. 

“That scribbled note reposes in a glass case in the 
Museum at Chicago — one of the most prized treasures 
of the world. It read as follows: 

“ ‘I can double your net income in twelve 

months. And I don’t mean maybe! 

Walter Ballantyne.’ 

“Perhaps I should explain that the second phrase in 
this note was a favorite expression of those times 
conveying definite assurance of some doubtful state- 
ment. 

“Ballantyne’s eccentric message gained him admis- 
sion to the presence and his quiet air of self-command 



gained him a hearing. It is a wonder that his proposal 
did not gain him a violent ejection! 

“Briefly summarized, his ultimatum was this. He 
had made a discovery which he believed would greatly 
increase the demand for iron. He would place this 
discovery at the exclusive disposal of the Pan-American 
Company for five years, at the end of which time, it 
was to become the property of the world. If, as the 
result of his discovery, the net income of the com- 
pany was quadrupled in two years or less, he was to 
receive a half interest in the company! 

“Can you picture it? I like to think of that studious 
young man with his quiet manner and his unbounded 
self-assurance demanding, at one bound, to be made 
the richest man in the world! And I like to imagine 
the emotions of those hard-headed business men, con- 
tempt merging into amusement, amusement into doubt, 
hesitation, anger and dismay, until at last they yielded 
and signed their names to the cast-iron contract which 
Ballantyne had prepared, with a touch of characteristic 
satire, on a sheet of white ferrotiss, the allotropic 
iron equivalent of paper. 

"That Ballantyne more than fulfilled his part of the 
agreement is common knowledge. In six months gi- 
gantic ferroverters were turning out hundreds of 
allotropic forms of iron in tremendous quantities. 
There was hardly any substance in commerce which 
could not be replaced more cheaply by some form of 
iron. Newspapers and magazines could be printed of 
ferrotiss at a fraction the cost of paper. Ferrolith 
took the place of wood and stone for buildings and 
had the advantage that it could be made opaque or 
transparent, a conductor or a non-conductor of heat at 
will. Flexifer was greatly preferable to cotton, silk 
or wool which it resembled, and rapidly replaced these 
materials for clothing and draperies. It was equally 
beautiful, much more durable, warmer or cooler as 
desired and had the added advantage that it could be 
sterilized at any time by simply heating it red hot 
without damaging it in the slightest. 

“It might be supposed that the sudden replacement 
of so many of the natural products by cheaper and 
better forms of allotropic iron would have resulted in a 
disruption of the national organization amounting to 
anarchy, but such was not the case. As fast as men 
were thrown out of employment in other trades, they 
were absorbed by the ever-growing iron industry and 
its offshoots. But there was one thing Ballantyne had 
overlooked in his famous contract. If he imagined 
that the other nations were going to sit dormant for 
five years while the United States captured the com- 
merce of the world, he was vastly mistaken. In the 
winter of 1954 a Brazilian workman stole the carefully 
guarded secret of the Ferroverter and sold it to his 
government. 

“This was the opportunity for which the military 
faction had been waiting. On December 25th, the 
United States declared war on Brazil.” 

CHAPTER III 

The World in 2200 A. D. 

HE Japanese professor stood up and stretched 
his slim, wiry body. 

“I am sure that you gentlemen must be very 
weary, listening with such commendable patience to a 
dissertation so long drawn out.” 

Both young men protested vigorously. 

“Don’t stop now, Doctor!” begged Ralph. “It’s early 
yet, and surely you don’t intend to leave us in mid-air 
with our curiosity unsatisfied.” 

Geoffrey added his persuasions. 




444 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Of course, I know a little of what you have been 
telling us, but only a very little. I always hated to take 
the time from my science to devote to history. What 
you have said serves to link up a lot of disconnected 
ideas. Please go on, won’t you?” 

“Upon your heads be it!” acquiesced the Japanese 
doctor, with his fleeting smile, as he settled back in 
his chair. “Where was I — Oh! Yes. The declaration 
of war on Brazil. 

“That declaration came as a thunderbolt to the 
great mass of the population. Interest in politics 
had waned more and more until, at the time of which 
I speak, elections were hardly more than a formality. 
There were sharply defined cliques, not only in the 
United States but in all other civilized countries, as 
well, which made a business of conducting the govern- 
ments. These cliques, as I have told you, thought 
in terms of war, but the average man and woman had 
grown so thoroughly accustomed to peace that it was 
looked upon as a permanent condition. In fact, there 
is every evidence that the large majority believed the 
declaration of war to be a pre-arranged diplomatic 
pretense to arouse interest in some military display, 
such as a sham air battle. 

“They were soon to be disillusioned. Less than 
twenty-four hours after war was declared, Chili, Ar- 
gentine, and South Africa had joined forces with 
Brazil, while Canada with its huge population, and 
England, still head of the British Empire, though with 
a population of less than twenty million, had offered 
to support the United States. 

“The war would, of course, be fought largely in 
the air. There were no large standing armies in any 
of the belligerent countries — the experience of the last 
war had shown that a nation’s strength lay in its vol- 
unteers — but practically everyone could handle a plane 
even in those days. The Government began to discuss 
finances and in the meantime sent out a stirring call 
for a million volunteer pilots and observers to handle 
bombing planes.” 

Dr. Umetaro paused for several seconds and then 
went on abruptly. 

“I despair of being able to convey to you the reasons 
which were responsible for the astounding outcome 
of that call to arms. I can only repeat that there had 
been nearly forty years of peace and that people had 
lost all interest in professional politics. What curious 
transformation had developed in the mass conscious- 
ness during those decades of peace, it is hard to say. 
I can only tell you the facts. 

“One week after the call for volunteers in the United 
States, with a population of two hundred million, only 
six men and two women had come forward! Of these, 
five were found to be mentally defective !” 

“I’m surprised that there were that many,” said 
Ralph, shrugging his shoulders. 

“That is how I should expect the situation to strike 
you, but remember that in those days, people looked at 
matters differently. In the ‘War to End Wars’ men 
and women volunteered by hundreds of thousands. It 
was regarded as the only possible thing to do in order 
to retain one’s self-respect. At the declaration of war 
against Germany, England and France lvere swept by 
a wave of passionate patriotism. 

“But in 1954 when the United States called for vol- 
unteers for a war against Brazil, the country was 
swept by a gust of amazement, followed by a cyclone of 
laughter. They looked upon the florid, patriotic posters, 
which were televised to all parts of the country, as 
a huge practical joke, Not that the citizens were not 
patriotic. They were, very much so, but how would 
you two gentlemen regard a politely worded invitation 
to join a select party for the purpose of jumping over 



this balcony to the glacier ? That was the attitude 
the people took towards the war against Brazil! 

“The Government was frantic. Every possible method 
was used in an effort to arouse the populace to a proper 
sense of their duty as soldiers, but it simply would 
not do, and at last the Government resigned in a body, 
swept out of existence by a gale of merriment. 

“In the meantime, the other belligerents were passing 
through similar experiences, modified by circumstances 
and racial characteristics. In Ottawa, the Canadians 
resorted to tar and feathers to express their feelings 
towards the members of the cabinet. The Brazilians, 
who are a hot-headed race, blew up the President’s 
house, fortunately at a time when His Excellency was 
at a conference. The servants having been warned, 
no harm was done. The English, running true to form, 
courteously ignored a war to which they had not been 
introduced, and simply froze out the Parliament which 
bad attempted to perform the introduction. 

“It would take far too long for me to trace the re- 
sults of that ridiculous declaration of war in all the 
countries involved, neither would it serve any good pur- 
pose. It suffices to say that many countries, including 
the United States, were temporarily without govern- 
ments, while others, Tike England, retained the form 
of government simply because the people ignored the 
statesmen. For a little while it appeared as though 
the whole world was on the verge of anarchy. 

“It was then that Walter Ballantyne showed his true 
greatness. One evening, without taking anyone into 
his confidence, he stepped into his private plane and at 
noon the following day he entered the palatial resi- 
dence of Senor Jose Pascano, managing director of the 
great Brazilian Corporation, whose employee had stolen 
the secret of transmuted iron. What took place at 
that conference we do not know, but we do know that 
two days later Ballantyne and Pascano presented their 
cards at Buckingham Palace and were immediately ad- 
mitted to the royal presence of King George the Sixth. 
This ruler, who had a full share of the enlightenment 
and sound common sense which had marked his uncle, 
Albert I, and his grandfather, George V, was more 
than willing to listen to the suggestions advanced by 
the American Scientist and heartily supported by the 
Brazilian financier. 

“Just a week later — the exact date was, as you are 
aware, Mr. Morton, February 14th — a proclamation 
was broadcast and televised to all parts of the world 
from the Island of Santa Lucia, stating that a Federa- 
tion of the World had been established with head- 
quarters at that point under the temporary supervision 
of Walter Ballantyne, George Windsor and Jose Pascano, 
who were ready and willing to accept applications for 
membership in the said Federation. An open invitation 
was extended to anyone who so desired to come to Santa 
Lucia and help the intrepid three in their self-assumed 
task of creating a new heaven and a new earth. 

“There were no suggestions of elected delegates or 
Ministers-Plenipotentiary. There was no restriction as 
to who might or might not join this self-constituted 
Board of Governors, save only that no person who had 
held any sort of office in the defunct governments 
might apply. There was not even any idea that nations 
should take a vote on the subject. 

“''T'HE attitude of the three was simple in the ex- 
treme. They said, in effect, ‘We’ve started a 
government. We’re going to do our level best to make 
it a good government. If you like it, come and help 
us make it a still better government. If you don’t like 
it, tell us why, and we’ll try to change it to suit you. 
Only it must be the same government for everyone.’ 

“Mind you, gentlemen, the idea was not original with 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



445 



Ballantyne. Wells, the writer of whom I spoke, had 
suggested the plan fifty years earlier, but these three 
were the first to put it into effect. You might suppose 
Santa Lucia would be flooded with cranks of all sorts, 
boiling with enthusiasm at the prospect of being able 
to start their own pet hobby horses down the track, 
but such was not the case. The people of the world 
were willing enough to accept any government which 
would get them out of the mess in which the old poli- 
ticians had involved them, but they were quite willing 
to sit back and see what the new World Federation 
had to offer. In the end, the three were forced to 
invite individuals to join the Board of Control, as they 
called themselves. They tried to get men of all nationali- 
ties, because they wanted to understand the various 
racial viewpoints. Aside from this, as Ballantyne 
pointed out, the sole qualifications were a keen sense 
of logic and an unbiased mind. 

“Really, my friends, you would be surprised to find 
how utterly biased and unreasonable the average man 
or woman of the twentieth century was! People were 
willing to believe anything, no matter how ridiculous. 
The attitude of ninety-nine per cent of the population 
in those days towards anything they did not under- 
stand may be summed up in the popular phrase, ‘There 
may be something in it!’ - People were simply too lazy 
to think or even to learn. 

“The first thing to which the Board of Control turned 
its attention was the vital matter of employment. It 
seems inconceivable to us today, but from the earliest 
times of which we have any record until the formation 
of the World Federation, from five to twenty-five per 
cent of the working population were always idle and 
without means of support. It is one of the signs of the 
illogical reasoning prevalent in those times, that every- 
one regarded unemployment as a necessary evil, in- 
stead of a ludicrous anachronism. 

“If you put one man on an uninhabited island there 
would be no unemployment problem. Robinson Crusoe 
had no cause to complain that he could not find work — 
rather the reverse! But put a million men in a country 
filled with all the necessities of life and it was entirely 
reasonable that they should starve and shiver in idle- 
ness. That was twentieth century logic ! 

“The ‘Three,’ as the original members of the Board 
of Control came to be known, entered on their 
tremendous task of remolding the earth ‘closer to the 
hearts’ desire,’ rather poorly equipped save for un- 
quenchable enthusiasm and a firm belief in the essen- 
tial sanity of human nature. In their comparative ig- 
norance, they probably thought that their work would 
be finished in five years, at the outside. 

“When the Board entered into this question of unem- 
ployment and began to realize how the whole matter 
was woven and interwoven with the infinite ramifica- 
tions of such apparently unrelated subjects as Finance, 
Banking, Transportation, Standards of Living, Inher- 
itances and even Climate, the ‘Three’ must have felt 
like little boys who had closed the starting switches 
on an Atlantic Air Liner and then found that they 
could not handle the controls! If they were discour- 
aged, they showed no sign of the fact, but simply 
buckled down to work with the determination that they 
would do a little at a time and do that little so well 
that it would not need to be changed or tampered with. 

“It was George Windsor, erstwhile King of Eng- 
land, who first formulated the principle of Employ- 
ment which has governed the world ever since. His 
words have become axiomatic throughout the length and 
breadth of the World Federation. There had been much 
argument in the Board Meetings as to the best way 
in which to distribute the resources of the earth. 
Some one brought up the suggestion of that same Bel- 



lamy of whom I spoke. Bellamy’s theory was that 
every man and woman, from the cradle to the grave, 
should receive an annual income equal to the total 
world income divided by the total population. 

“‘That’s ridiculous!’ exclaimed George Windsor (I 
quote from the official reports of the Conference). 
‘You might as well pass a law that any person attend- 
ing a public restaurant shall be obliged to eat a small 
portion of every dish on the menu, whether he likes 
it or not.’ 

“ ‘The cases are hardly parallel, sir,’ protested Ves- 
trinoff, who had made the suggestion. ‘I am not pro- 
posing to dole out the actual products themselves, but 
the value of them. Each person could spe,nd his in- 
come as he or she wished.’ 

“ ‘I understand that perfectly well, Vestrinoff,’ said 
the young Englishman, ‘but the principle is the same. 
Take ourselves as an example. You are passionately 
fond of mountaineering. You would regard a day in 
the mountains as wasted unless it brought you through 
infinite toil and danger to the summit of some great 
peak. Now I love to wander on the valley slopes and 
caress the wild flowers or drink in the changing as- 
pects of the scenery. Would you consider it just or 
reasonable that I should be forced to follow in your 
footsteps regardless of my own inclinations?’ 

“ ‘I think I see your point,’ said the Russian, thought- 
fully. ‘You think that personal ambition and accom- 
plishment should be a factor in determining individual 
income?’ 

“ ‘Well — yes,’ said Windsor, hesitatingly. 

“ ‘Gentlemen,’ interposed Pascano, ‘if this Board 
differs from other bodies of idealists which have tried 
and failed in the past, it is in that we are planning a 
world which shall get the best out of human nature 
as it is, not trying to change human nature to make 
it fit an impossible Utopia. All men are not alike. 
Some desire wealth and luxury, while others are happy 
with the bare necessities of life, so long as they can 
have peace and leisure to cultivate knowledge or friend- 
ship. Whatever plan we adopt, justice must be blended 
with practical expediency.’ 

“George Windsor had been scribbling on a slip of 
paper while the Brazilian financier had been speak- 
ing. Now he stood up and read quietly: 

“ ‘ Healthy and congenial occupation ivith an ade- 
quate income for all. Equal opportunities to all and to 
each the full reward of his accomplishment. Unfair 
privileges at the expense of others, to none.’ 

“These words, coming strangely from the lips of the 
young man who had sat on the throne of the greatest 
empire the world has ever known, were the foundation 
stones of our social structure today. The speaker and 
all his companions, gathered there under the Santa 
Lucian palm trees, had long been in their graves before 
the building was complete, but the threefold corner- 
stone which George Windsor laid has remained invio- 
late to this day. 

“ ‘The Law of the Triangle,’ as it came to be known, 
was the first pronouncement which emanated from the 
Board of Control. It was met with a burst of enthu- 
siasm from the waiting nations of the world. The 
workers welcomed it as a new revelation. The wealthy 
who had accumulated riches by -their own knowledge 
and efforts, breathed a sigh of relief that their incomes 
were not to be ruthlessly slashed to the bone by a 
heartless band of idealists. Only those who were rev- 
eling in luxury on the proceeds of inherited fortunes 
or as the result of political patronage shook in their 
shoes or girded their loins to fight the new Federation, 
but they were helpless. One after another the Nations 
pledged themselves to obey the Law of the Triangle. 
The last to enter was the little Republic of Switzer- 



446 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



land, -which held off because here, alone in all the 
world, men did not feel the need of any change, 

I T was the inspiration of a moment to formulate the 
‘Law of the Triangle,’ but it was the work of a 
century to bring it to full fruition. In every land men 
lost interest in the Physical Sciences and turned their 
attention to the science of the Social Structure. Just 
as in the early years of the century, boys had flocked 
to the universities to study electricity and chemistry, 
so now they crowded the institutions of learning to 
delve into the mysteries of finance, psychology, trans- 
portation, production and law. In 1927 there was a 
popular feeling that the scientists should take a ten- 
year holiday to allow the w T orld to catch up. In 1960 
such a holiday actually began, to last, not for ten years, 
but for over two hundred ! 

“One of the earliest acts of the Board of Control was 
to issue an appeal that nothing should be done hastily 
or without careful consideration. No man was to be 
allowed to suffer as the result of the new regime. 
Changes were to be gradual and spread over many 
years, so that the coming generation might grow up 
naturally under the Law of the Triangle, while the 
passing generation would hardly realize the transfor- 
mation. 

“Today we live in a world which is so utterly dif- 
ferent to what the idealists of the nineteenth century 
predicted, that I was justified in saying that Wells 
and Bellamy would be dumbfounded if they could 
awake in it. We still have our millionaires; men and 
women who, by unbounded ambition and hard work, 
have earned the financial reward to which they are 
justly entitled, but we have no one living in idleness 
on the interest of accumulated money. We still have 
an innumerable company who would have been called 
poor in the old days, but who are no longer regarded 
as such because they have everything in life that they 
desire. There is no such thing today as a national 
‘Standard of Living,’ because each man moulds his life 
to suit his tastes. John Ballantyne lives in his huge 
palace on the Hudson and no one envies him his wealth, 
for he has earned it. David Windsor, descendant of 
an English King, works two months in the year in the 
Ballantyne factory in London, in order that he may 
spend the other ten months in his Devonshire cottage 
with the ancient Greek philosophers who are his 
friends. He is jealous of no one, for he has what he 
desires. 

* * # 

“T) UT I’m wandering far from the line which I had 
JD intended to pursue. You will easily understand 
that the intense fascination of sharing in the creation 
of this Age of Social Enlightenment weaned our men 
and women from the study of the physical sciences. 
Little by little the spirit of research which had in- 
spired" the great scientists of the earlier centuries faded 
and died. Even as early as 1930 signs were not lack- 
ing that some branches of science were regarded as 
complete; that nothing more could be accomplished. 
For example, little or no vital progress was made in 
transportation for nearly sixty years after the inven- 
tion of the airplane and the automobile. 

“As the years went on, people came to regard the 
mass of scientific knowledge as unalterable. The occa- 
sional enthusiast who wished to branch out into new 
lines of scientific research was looked at askance, much 
as a social revolutionist or religious free-thinker was 
regarded in earlier times. During the last fifty years 
this prejudice has reached such an extreme that it is 
a brave man who would venture to suggest that we 
have anything to learn about the universe in which we 
live. 



“There have been rebels against the existing order 
of things in all ages, and the present is no exception. 
Here and there, men and women imbued with the 
hunger for knowledge which is undying in the human 
race, have secretly sought to delve still further into 
the mysteries of Nature. Like calls to like, and a 
world-wide organization has grown up, under a pledge 
of the deepest secrecy, numbering in its membership 
practically all those who refuse to accept the ultimatum 
of the Board of Control forbidding scientific research. 
This organization, of which I am Japanese Vice- 
President, is known to its members as ‘The Rebels.’ 
We have means by which we discover possible recruits 
to our ranks, and it was due to information which I 
had received from certain sources that I was led to 
accost you in Denver, Mr. Morton. 

“Year by year ‘The Rebels’ grow stronger. The 
time draws ever nearer when, we hope, by some great 
scientific revelation which shall benefit the whole 
world, to induce the Board of Control to remove the 
ban which now rests upon Science. When that time 
comes and the world enters upon a new era of progress, 
it is my hope that you two gentlemen, Ralph Morton 
and Geoffrey Von Elmer, may have your just share in 
the great event.” 

Earth’s silver satellite had passed the zenith and was 
beginning to drop down towards the western moun- 
tains. The glacier seemed to shine with an unearthly 
radiance of its own. Wisps of gossamer clung around 
the higher summits and crept sinuously through the 
passes. An avalanche dashed down some hidden cou- 
loir with the rumble of distant drums and the clash 
of faint cymbals. 

For a long time the three men sat in silence, ab- 
sorbed in their own thoughts and the unutterable 
beauty of the scene. When the soft accents of Ota 
Umetaro’s voice had ceased, neither Ralph nor Geof- 
frey had made any comment on the strange story 
which the Japanese scientist had told them. There was 
an unspoken understanding between these three. Each 
saw with the eye of faith a world freed from the nar- 
row bounds of bigotry and prejudice, ready to pursue 
once more its way to grander heights and more noble 
conquests. It was nothing new. In every age the 
hands of the many have fettered the feet of the few. 
In the twentieth century it was the social reformers 
who were tied down by the mental inertia of the mob. 
Now the pendulum had swung to the other extreme and 
scientific progress was hopelessly impeded as it had 
been in the days of Galileo, by that hatred of change, 
which alone holds mankind back from becoming fully 
divine. 

Presently the mellow chiming of a deep-toned bell 
broke in upon their thoughts. 

“An extra issue of the New- York Tele-Post,” Ralph 
explained, rising. “We subscribe to that and the Paris 
Tele-Semaine, in order to keep in touch with the out- 
side world.” 

Geoffrey and the Doctor rose also. 

“I should like to see your Telegon, Mr. Morton,” said 
the latter. “I understand that they are slightly differ- 
ent from the Japanese model, which was the invention 
of Tsuki Konoma, and was authorized for use in the 
Japanese Division in 2024. Of course, there has been 
no change in it since then!” he added, rather bitterly. 

They entered the study, a small room adjacent to the 
laboratory. Geoffrey pressed a button and the Ferro- 
lith walls glowed with a pearly radiance which lighted 
the room without shadows. There were two desks. One 
wall was lined with bookshelves. Between the desks 
stood the usual Visophone with its transmitter, re- 
ceiver, calling dial and opal glass viewing screen. Be- 
side it was a large cabinet of polished Ferroak, one 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



447 



of the numerous transmuted iron substitutes for wood. 

Ralph opened the front of the cabinet and revealed a 
mass of complicated machinery. 

“You said something about the Paris Tele-Semaine,” 
said the Doctor. “What is that? It is new to me.” 

“The company was started in France last year,” 
said Geoffrey. “They transmit a complete book once 
a week, sometimes a novel and sometimes non-fiction. 
Here is a sample volume.” 

He took a book from one of the shelves and handed 
it to the Doctor. It w 7 as beautifully printed on heavy 
ferrotiss and bore the title, “The Influence of Friend- 
ship on Mass Production, by Shani Singh.” 

“But we are forgetting the Tele-Post Special,” ex- 
claimed Dr. Umetaro, laying down the book and pick- 
ing up the single sheet of ferrotiss which lay in the 
basket. He glanced at the headlines and snapped out 
an exclamation in Japanese. There was something in 
this printed sheet which had broken down his custom- 
ary Oriental immobility. He passed the paper to Ralph. 

“Gentlemen!” he said, in a low, strained voice, “our 
great opportunity has come even sooner than w r e ex- 
pected.” 

Staring out from the white surface of the ferrotiss 
in large letters they read these words: 

BRAZILIAN IRON ORE DEPOSITS UNEXPECT - 
EDLY EXHAUSTED 

JOHN BALLANTYNE CALLS INTERNATIONAL 
CONFERENCE TO AVERT COMMERCIAL 
CATASTROPHE 

BOARD OF CONTROL SERIOUSLY ALARMED 
CHAPTER IV 
A World Crisis 

J OHN BALLANTYNE was awakened from uneasy 
slumber by the deep chime of the Visophone bell 
at his bedside. He reached over to switch on the 
viewing screen and put the earpiece of the combination 
telephone to his ear. Simultaneously, the features of a 
dark-skinned young man appeared upon the screen. 
“What is it, Kana?” Ballantyne queried, sleepily. 
“You asked me to call you at 7 :30, sir,” replied the 
other. “You said you had an important meeting in 
the New York office this morning.” 

Ballantyne sat up fully awake. Of course! How 
could he have forgotten? This was the day of the 
Inter-Divisional conference which he had called to dis- 
cuss the appalling situation at the mines. He had 
lain awake half the night worrying about it and had 
at last been forced to call for Kana to put him to sleep. 
Kana had a knack for that sort of thing, like many of 
the natives of Rhodesia. Some psychological or hypnotic 
power, perhaps inherited from their Voodoo-worship- 
ping forebears. 

Ballantyne flung aside the single purple flexifer sheet 
which covered him and stepped across to the east wall 
of his sleeping room. A panel slipped aside, revealing 
a swimming pool lined with white ferrolith tiles. The 
water gleamed and sparkled in the golden light of the 
early sun. His night tunic dropped around his feet 
and his slim, muscular body cleft the blue water like 
an arrow. 

Presently he was finishing his toilet in front of a 
great mirror which formed one wall of the room and 
he eyed himself critically. Yes, he was as erect and 
strong as he had been fifty years before, when he took 
over the control of the International Ferrous Products 
Company from his father. His hearing was keen, his 
eyes bright, he had never known a day’s sickness in 
his life. True, he thought as he brushed his hair in 



the customary double parting, there were signs of gray 
in the past ten years — since his son had left him. It 
was a good thing he had been able to keep that affair 
from the hearing of the Board of Control. They’d have 
made short work of the poor fellow. 

Heaven knows he’d had enough to contend with, and 
now, just at the time when his eighty-five years entitled 
him to a little rest and pleasure, this ore shortage had 
to come up. He sighed and, turning from the mirror, 
picked up his tunic and flung It over his shoulders, just 
as a voice came from the speaker on the table. - 

“Hurry up, John! Breakfast has been ready for an 
age and I’m hungry.” 

“Coming, my dear,” he replied and stepping into a 
little car, like an elevator, he was swiftly carried to 
the dining pavilion overlooking the Hudson River. 
Here Rose, his only daughter, and Kana, his secretary 
and trusted friend, were already awaiting him. 

She was hardly thirty and in the full bloom of her 
early youth. Her black eyes often snapped with fun, 
but her full red lips sometimes seemed to droop with a 
faint sadness as though the shadow of some past grief 
were haunting her. 

She was dressed in the universal fashion of the 
times, which was in most respects similar for both 
men and women, save that while the tunic for men 
reached to the waist and was fastened by a light metal 
chain across the throat, that of the women was knee 
length and was held in place by two ribbons crossing 
the chest and meeting at the back of the waist. Tunic, 
breeches and sandals were often elaborately ornamented, 
especially in the case of young girls. The latest mode, 
which was exemplified in Rose’s garments, included a 
high collar or ruff somewhat in the Elizabethan style. 

In mild weather, both sexes wore the tunic hanging 
down the back by its retaining chain or ribbon, leaving 
the arms free, but on chilly days it was drawn forward 
to envelop the body. All garments being made of 
flexifer in one or more of its innumerable colors and 
textures, the wonderful non-conducting properties of 
which made it absolutely impervious to heat or cold, the 
uncomfortable and unsanitary undergarments of past 
centuries were no longer necessary. Besides this, the 
love of outdoor light, which was universal in the Age 
of Social Enlightenment, had so improved the average 
physique that few people were inconvenienced by mod- 
erate cold, and it was a common thing, in rainy weather, 
to see the tunic completely discarded for the pleasure 
of feeling the raindrops beating upon the bare skin. 

Kana was a typical Central African Negro, short, 
heavy set and muscled like a Hercules. Highly intelli- 
gent and with a pleasing manner, he had become al- 
most indispensable to Ballantyne during the three 
years they had been associated. Rose, however, did 
not share her father’s high opinion of Kana. She sub- 
mitted herself to sharp self-criticism for her attitude 
towards the Zulu, but was unable to overcome it. 
Viewed in the light of this unreasonable prejudice, 
Kana’s intelligence became craftiness, his dog-like de- 
votion and understanding affection for Ballantyne be- 
came self-seeking hypocrisy. 

The financier kissed his daughter lightly on the 
brow, shook hands with Kana and sat down to a hearty 
breakfast. 

“Kana told me you were going to get up early,” said 
Rose, shaking her finger at him playfully. “Do you 
call this early?” 

“The fact is, my dear, I could not sleep, and when 
I did get to sleep at last, I slept so soundly that Kana 
had to call me.” 

“What was the trouble, John?” asked Rose, anx- 
iously. “Yo'u’re not worrying about this conference, 
are you?” 



448 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“No, no, Rose, not at all!” Ballantyne answered 
quickly, though his light tone did not deceive the keen 
ear of his daughter. She knew that he was worried, 
but she also knew him. too •well and loved him too 
dearly to add to his worry by plying him with questions. 

“I was talking to Lotus Grenville this morning,” she 
said. “She called me from Jacksonville before I was 
out of bed. She’s not looking at all well, John. I knew 
her guardian would be attending your old conference, 
so I asked Lotus to stay with me for a few weeks, but 
she said that she had made up her mind to go up to 
that little log cabin of hers near Jasper.” 

“Is she going by herself, Miss Ballantyne?” asked 
Kana. 

“Yes, quite alone,” replied the girl. “You know it’s 
quite a trip from Florida to Jasper, away up in Al- 
berta, Canada. She’s flying her own two-seater, so 
that she may be free to come and go as she wishes. 

“That’s why she called me up so early. She was leav- 
ing then and called to ask us to put up her guardian 
while he is in New York. Will that be all right, John?” 
“Certainly! By all means!” replied her father, rising 
from the table. “I was never very fond of Clifford 
Weatherby, but we can hardly refuse him our hos- 
pitality. Well, you must excuse us, my dear. It’s 
nearly nine o’clock and we must be at the office by 
nine-thirty. Coming, Kana?” 

“Ready, sir!” replied the negro, folding his napkin 
hastily. 

A S Ballantyne’s light plane, with Kana at the eon- 
. trols, rose vertically from the hangar, whose 
roof opened to release it, an ever-widening landscape lay 
spread beneath them. From an altitude of eight thou- 
sand feet (the level reserved around all large cities for 
the exclusive use of in-bound commuters), the rolling 
hills, the winding river and the verdant woods pre- 
sented much the same appearance as they must have 
done to the first aerial voyagers, the pterodactyls, those 
grotesque reptilian forerunners of the birds, which did 
their share towards making the Triassic period hideous. 
But the similarity was one of contour and outline only, 
for the details which had been filled in to complete the 
picture by the handiwork of man, would have astonished 
the New Yorker of a bare two hundred years earlier. 
The pride of the twentieth century New Yorker in his 
city was proverbial and there was very little limit to 
the growth which was thought possible for the great- 
est city of the. Western World, but even the most opti- 
mistic would have balked at the suggestion of an area 
increased by five hundred fold in a little over two cen- 
turies. Yet such an estimate would have fallen short 
of the truth. 

Buildings of every conceivable size and architecture 
dotted the landscape as far as the eye could reach. If 
a giant could have placed one leg of an immense pair 
of compasses upon Central Park and, with the other 
leg, describe a semicircle having a radius of a hun- 
dred miles, its circumference would not have enclosed 
the City of New York as John Ballantyne knew it in 
the year 2200. Rapid transportation, already an accom- 
plished fact in the days of the first Ballantyne, had, at 
that time, done little to transform the daily habits of 
man, but as the years passed there was born a growing 
realization of the fact that it was no longer neces- 
sary to crowd ten million bodies intcf an area so small 
and congested that health and happiness were virtually 
impossible. 

If the earliest effect of “The Law of the Triangle” 
in shortening the necessary hours of labor produced an 
almost revolutionary transformation in the life- 
habits of mankind, its corollary, the cheapening of rapid 
transit, had results equally surprising. Residential dis- 



tricts began to spread over larger and larger areas 
until it was no uncommon thing for workers to live at 
distances of a hundred miles or more from their places 
of business. The “Back to Nature” movement which 
originated in the twentieth century became an accom- 
plished fact in the twenty-second, because each man 
could place his house as far from those of his neighbors 
as he wished, and surround himself with such combina- 
tions of natural beauty in mountain, lake or sea, as only 
the wealthiest could have afforded under the old, dis- 
carded system. Fictitious land values, created as the 
direct result of crowded cities, passed out of existence 
when traffic regulations were altered to permit of speeds 
up to two hundred miles per hour on the ground and 
four hundred in the air. 

Ten minutes after leaving the Eyrie, Ballantyne and 
Kana passed over the great Windsor playgrounds and 
reached the outskirts of the business portion of New 
York. The mighty canyons and mountainous skyline 
which were the pride of early New York had passed into 
the limbo of forgotten things and in their places were 
huge buildings of carven ferrolith, rarely more than 
two stories in height, but covering an immense extent of 
ground. Far to the east, the huge bulk of the Central 
Distribution Building flashed like a great sapphire from 
its vantage point on Ellis Island. Here an endless pro- 
cession of freight planes from all parts of the world dis- 
charged loads of wealth for distribution to the factories. 
True, the introduction of transmuted iron had tremen- 
dously decreased the demand for natural products, but 
there still remained many substances which could not 
be replaced by any form of iron. The successful produc- 
tion of synthetic food, one of the latest inventions be- 
fore the Age of Social Enlightenment put a stop to sci- 
entific progress, was a barren discovery, for man still 
preferred to let nature grow his food ! 

Countless thousands of planes of every size, from the 
tiny two-seaters to the huge machines of the interurban 
lines, were converging from every direction, and Kana 
was obliged to use all his skill to cut his way out of the 
traffic stream at their destination. Near the center of 
the city was a small, highly ornate building of crimson 
ferrolith, bearing on its flat roof the name “Interna- 
tional Ferrous Corporation — Central Offices.” When di- 
rectly above this building, Kana allowed the plane to fall 
vertically, the lifting helices idling on their shafts. 
When about five hundred feet above the roof he pressed 
a button. A siren mounted on the bottom of the plane 
emitted a blast of sound at a frequency so high as to be 
inaudible. A diaphragm on the roof, tuned to the par- 
ticular frequency of Kana’s siren, served to close the cir- 
cuit of a small motor which, in turn, swung open two 
panels, revealing Ballantyne’s private hangar, into 
which Kana dropped as lightly as a feather and with the 
finish and accuracy of the trained flier. 

As the financier stepped out of the plane into a small 
luxuriously furnished waiting room, he was greeted by 
a little man whose outstretched hand and broad smile 
gave an effect of cordiality which was weakened by his 
shifty, light gray eyes and the unpleasant cast of fea- 
ture which were almost fox-like in their cadaverousness. 

"Glad to see you again, Ballantyne!” he exclaimed ef- 
fusively. “You’re still as healthy looking as ever, in 
spite of your years.” 

“I wish I could say the same for you, Weatherby,” re- 
plied the other, shaking hands. “You look as though 
you were working too hard.” 

“It’s a choice of working or starving,” the little man 
replied fretfully. “If I wasn’t wide awake, I should soon 
lose the little I have accumulated, what with these new 
regulations the Board of Control have put into effect. 
They don’t seem to realize the privileges which are the 
just due of the wealthy.” 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



449 



“I’m afraid that your sentiments are a bit out of 
date,” laughed Ballantyne. “But of course you don’t 
mean what you say. Such ideas are contrary to the 
Law of the Triangle!” 

“I’m not in the habit of saying what I don’t mean,” 
snapped Weatherby, irritably. “However, I didn’t come 
up to discuss obsolete laws but to thank you for your in- 
vitation to stay at the Eyrie. I regret that I am obliged 
to decline, as it will be impossible for me to leave the 
Florida mines for longer than one day.” 

“That’s too bad,” replied Ballantyne amicably. “From 
what your ward said, Rose and myself were looking for- 
ward to having you with us for a few days. However, 
you know your own business best.” 

The three men stepped into a small private elevator 
and dropped two stories to the great assembly room, 
which was devoted to business conferences amongst the 
department chiefs in the huge corporation of which Bal- 
lantyne was president and manager. This hall, which 
covered the entire second floor of the building, was as 
unlike the average “directors’ room” of the early days 
as can possibly be imagined. It resembled a palatial ro- 
tunda in some great hotel. Deep carpets of crimson 
ferrovell covered the floor. Cushioned chairs were scat- 
tered at intervals without any attempt at formal ar- 
rangement. The view, unobstructed save by a single 
row of delicate columns, showed on one side a vista of 
gardens, trees and fountains. On the other side was 
the sea, its clear waves, unsullied by the defilement 
which was universal in the days of ocean liners, lapped 
the very foundations of the building and glistened 
cheerfully in the morning sun. 

When Ballantyne, Kana and Weatherby stepped into 
the room, it was already filled with an assemblage of 
men and women, whose brilliantly colored tunics gave 
the impression of a social gathering rather than of a 
solemn business conclave. Here w r ere the representa- 
tives of the transmuted iron industry with its nu- 
merous branches from all parts of the wrnrld. There 
was La Bissoniere, manager of the French Flexifer fac- 
tories; Von Esterholtz, president of the German mines; 
Ho Cheng, suave and inscrutable, from the Chinese 
division; Beecham, the tall blond Englishman, and a 
hundred others. 

A MID the blaze of rainbow hues, three figures stood 
k out in marked contrast. Two were men, one a 
woman. They alone of the assemblage were clad in pure 
white, unrelieved by any ornament save for a large tri- 
angle embroidered upon the back of each tunic, in the 
three primary colors of the spectrum, blue, red and yel- 
low. They were Hector Shawn, Kanzo Singh and Felice 
Mincheau, “The Three” who were for that decade joint 
presidents of the Board of Control. They had broken 
all precedents by leaving the confines of Santa Lucia 
to attend this meeting, realizing that, for the first time 
in nearly two centuries, the happiness and prosperity 
of the world were at stake. 

The crowd parted respectfully to allow Ballantyne to 
cross the room to where the Three were seated. They 
rose as he approached and each greeted him with a 
warm handclasp and the salutation, “Your wish!” the 
phrase which had largely displanted the old-fashioned 
“How d’ you do?” in these days, when universal good 
health had rendered the latter expression redundant. 
The modern greeting is, of course, an abbreviation of 
“May you have your wish!” 

“Eight years have passed since last we saw you, 
John Ballantyne,” said Shawn. “They might well have 
- been eight rose petals for all the change we see in you.” 
“What should the years be but rose petals,” returned 
Ballantyne lightly, “when I have a rosebud — my daugh- 
ter Rose — to watch over my happiness?” 



“And your son?” queried Felice Mincheau, “Ralph, 
is it not? Soon he will be ready to take the burden 
from your so heavily laden shoulders !” 

A fleeting shadow passed over Ballantyne’s face. 

“He is away on — on a visit,” he replied, and then 
turning hastily to the tall Hindoo, “Your wish! Kanzo 
Singh. The time is not far distant when you will be 
free to return to your beloved garden in Nepal. The 
world can ill spare you.” 

“May the All Wise grant that the world have no 
greater troubles than such passing regrets!” said the 
Hindoo gravely. He pointed towards the sea. “The 
ripples glitter bravely in the sunshine,” he said, “but 
when the storm rages, the ripples are forgotten.” 

Somewhere a bell chimed the hour with golden tones. 

“Ten o’clock,” said Ballantyne. “Will the Three honor 
me with their presence on the rostrum ?” 

He led the way towards a slightly raised platform 
at one side of the room. As the four moved, the groups 
of delegates broke up and sought seats. Clifford Weath- 
erby, whose wealth and importance might well have 
justified his assuming a place on the platform, seated 
himself at the back of the room, close to the balcony 
which overhung the sea. 

Kana followed Ballantyne to the platform, around 
which were grouped the reporters from the various 
telenewspapers. As he was about to step on to the 
rostrum, Ballantyne paused and looked fixedly at one of 
the reporters, a tall, handsome young man with very 
regular features and skin of a light brown. After a 
moment’s hesitation, Ballantyne spoke. 

“Your wish, sir! May. I ask your name?” 

“Your wish, Mr. Ballantyne,” replied the young man, 
bowing. “I am Morton of the New York Tele-Standard.” 

“Forgive my abruptness, Mr. Morton. Your face re- 
minds me of someone — someone I once knew. 

The others had stood by courteously during this brief 
conversation, but as Ballantyne turned away, Kanzo 
Singh, with an instinctive feeling that the incident was 
not closed in Ballantyne’s mind, spoke to young Morton 
quietly. 

“You are from the Hindoostan Division, Mr. 
Morton?” 

“Your wish, Kanzo Singh of the Three,” replied 
Morton formally. “My mother was of the American 
Division.” 

“Ah ! That accounts for your light skin and regular 
features,” said the Hindoo. “And your father?” 

Before Morton could reply to this question, Ballantyne 
called to Kanzo Singh to take his place and stood up to 
open the meeting. This he did with a total absence of 
formality, simply raising his hand and speaking in a 
quiet voice, which, thanks to the faultless acoustic con- 
struction of the ceiling, was audible in every part of 
the great room. 

“As President of the Ironmasters of the World,” 
he began, “it is my duty to receive reports from the 
various mines and oversee the distribution of the ore 
to the factories. 

“During the past two years the nature of these re- 
ports has been more and more disturbing. I need 
hardly point out to you that since the discovery of 
allotropie iron by my great-great-grandfather, the ma- 
terial comfort and progress of the world has come to 
depend to a large extent upon the unhampered operation 
of the iron industry. To take one example, if some 
unforeseen catastrophe rendered the further manufac- 
ture of flexifer fabrics impossible, it would be many 
years before we should be able to revive the forgotten 
arts of weaving and spinning. In the meantime, it is 
not too much to say that the world would revert from 
civilization to a condition of naked savagery. 

“The same reasoning applies to all the branches of 



450 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



the iron industry. A shortage of iron would result 
in a shortage of all the necessities of life with the 
sole exception of food. Even foodstuffs could not be 
distributed in the absence of the machinery which iron 
alone makes possible. 

“I spoke of the disturbing reports from the mines. 
What these reports signify you can judge for your- 
selves after hearing what the Departmental Chiefs 
have to say. Ho Cheng, will you describe what you have 
found in the Chinese mines?” 

The Chinese engineer spoke from his place near the 
rostrum. Like Ballantyne he spoke without the mean- 
ingless preliminaries of olden days, coming straight to 
the point. 

“Three years ago,” he said, “some of the workers 
called my attention to a remarkable phenomenon. In 
several places in the Sun Kee mine, veins of ore which 
were being excavated by means of vertical shafts, came 
to an end suddenly, and below the magnetite was found 
a peculiar mineral with which none of us was familiar. 
I said that the ore came to an end suddenly, but I should 
rather have said that this unknown mineral blended 
and interpenetrated with the ore, as though the one 
were a product of the other. 

“Chemical analysis revealed the surprising fact that 
the mineral was a sulphide of gold. This metal being 
practically valueless, the workings were, of course, 
abandoned and the men transferred elsewhere. About 
a year later, one of the Sub-Chiefs asked me to come 
and look at a certain shaft. It was the first shaft in 
which the sulphide of gold had been found. What was 
my surprise to find that the sulphide had spread up- 
ward, almost like a disease, the upper level being now 
twenty feet above the bottom of the shaft ! 

“Since that date we have made careful inspection of 
all mine shafts in the Chinese division and have found 
that the whole body of iron ore wherever distributed 
throughout western Asia, is slowly being converted into 
sulphide of gold from below. What is causing this 
change we have not been able to ascertain, but, as I have 
said, it seems to partake of the nature of a disease.” 
George Beecham, the tall, blond Englishman, rose. 
“Conditions in the English mines are substantially 
the same as those reported by Ho Cheng. The ore is 
slowly being destroyed from below. I may add, how- 
ever, that we have discovered that this disease is appar- 
ently like the germ diseases of the past. It is infectious 
by contact. A sample of ore taken from a point ten 
feet above the advancing sulphide and kept in a glass 
tube, remains unchanged until the present time, al- 
though the infection has long since advanced past the 
point from which it was taken.” 

“I can add one more observation,” said La Bissoniere. 
“We have made a careful study of this gold sulphide 
in the French division and we find that it is simply 
what it appears to be: sulphide of gold. We had some 
hopes that it might be merely some form of transmuted 
iron with the properties of the gold compound. This 
hope is without foundation. The mineral is worthless 
and we can only stand and watch billions of dollars’ 
worth of iron ore vanishing before our eyes.” 

O NE after another the mine chiefs added their quota 
to the alarming news and as each speaker con- 
cluded his brief report, amazement and consternation 
became more apparent upon the faces of the listeners. 
The extreme seriousness of the situation might have 
failed to impress the world of the twentieth century 
when commercial products were so immensely diversi- 
fied that the total destruction of any one of them would 
have resulted in little more than a passing depression, 
but with the discovery of allotropic iron, the world had 
put all its eggs into one basket. The apparent inexhaus- 



tibility of the ore deposits justified the belief that the 
basket was reliable. Then, out of a clear sky, or rather 
out of the bowels of the earth, came this mysterious dis- 
ease which was consuming the one substance upon which 
civilization depended, much as leprosy and cancer, those 
horrible, obsolete plagues of the past, consumed human 
flesh. 

When the last of the mine chiefs had said his say and 
taken his seat, there was silence for some few moments 
and then Hector Shawn rose and came to the edge of 
the rostrum. Of the three, Shawn, the big, swarthy 
Irishman, was the best qualified to grasp the seriousness 
of this world crisis, for he had been a mine chief under 
Ballantyne before he was appointed to a share in the 
highest office in the Board of Control on the island of 
Santa Lucia. 

“You have heard,” he said, incisively. “You under- 
stand. There is no need for discussion. Discussion is 
wise only when there is a choice of paths. In this mat- 
ter we have no choice. We must save whatever portion 
of the untainted ore remains. The Three will call for 
volunteers to aid the mine workers in removing the ore 
as quickly as possible and storing it in some place safe 
from infection. While this remnant is being consumed, 
we must go back to the habits of our forefathers and 
learn to grow wool and cotton, to weave and to spin. 
We must grow new forests of pine and oak. We must 
train carpenters and stonecutters. We must study all 
the arts which flourished in former centuries and train 
our children in the practice of them. 

“I have spoken. Is the Three in accord ?” 

Kanzo Singh and Felice Mincheau raised their arms 
in a peculiar gesture, placing the thumbs and forefin- 
gers of the hands together to form a triangle. It was 
the sign of official assent. Shawn acknowledged it by 
a similar motion and resumed his seat. 

The Three had spoken. They had met the crisis and 
passed judgment in accord, as they and their predeces- 
sors had passed judgment innumerable times in the 
past. There remained nothing further to be said or 
done. The assembled delegates were content, all save 
one. Morton, the young, dark-skinned reporter, rose 
hesitatingly to his feet and faced the rostrum. 

“Will the Three grant me leave to speak?” he asked, 
modestly. 

“Speak!” replied Shawn. 

“The Three has passed judgment in accord,” said the 
young man quietly. “Not for two centuries has any man 
questioned a decree of the Three in accord. But not for 
two centuries — no, nor for twenty centuries has the 
world faced a crisis like this. Shall we sit supine and 
raise no hand to keep the civilization which we have 
built up since Walter Ballantyne explored the secret 
places of science so long ago? Does not science still 
hold secrets which are greater than any she has revealed 
in the past? 

“It is said that there is a society of scientists known 
to its members as ‘The Rebels.’ Who knows but that 
these Rebels may make some new discovery which will 
restore to us our iron mines or provide new sources of 
transmuted iron? Let us appeal to them. Let us ” 

His speech was abruptly cut short. Kanzo Singh, 
who had with difficulty controlled his indignation, 
sprang to his feet and towered with outstretched arms 
and flashing eyes above the unfortunate reporter. 

“Silence!” he roared. “0, impious young man! It is 
well for you that your youth and inexperience disposes 
the Three to leniency. Is it not written in the Sacred 
Books of Science that nothing shall be added to or taken 
from the divine revelations which our forefathers have 
handed down to us? Have not our wise men said that 
there is no remedy for this plague which is destroying 
our mines? Shall we question their knowledge? 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



451 



“As for these Rebels who would tamper with the ap- 
pointed body of science, would that the Three could lay 
hands upon the accursed heretics and wipe them from 
the face of the earth they defile by their presence ! 

“I have spoken! Is the Three in accord?” 

Again the Three gave the sign of the Triangle. There 
was a murmur of approval from the listeners. Faces 
showed every degree of emotion from disapproval to 
horror. Only John Ballantyne ventured a glance of 
sympathy at the young man who had dared to brave 
the anger of the mighty Three ; who had flung his con- 
victions in the teeth of universal public belief. Some- 
how he found his memory harking back to that day in 
the Eyrie when another young man, his dearly loved 
son, had left him forever, rather than give up the pur- 
suits he loved. He saw him again, as he tightened his 
muscles in a grim determination to continue unham- 
pered in his scientific research and experimentation — 
until such time when the world would realize the 
value and need of such work. 

Meanwhile Clifford Weatherby, the little Florida 
financier, had risen in his place by the balcony and was 
speaking. 

“The Three has done well in crushing this vile heresy 
in the bud,” he exclaimed harshly. “It will be a sad day 
for the world when freedom of speech is extended to 
the point where such opinions are tolerated. Never- 
theless, I crave permission to make a suggestion. It 
was taught in the old days that the welfare of mankind 
rested in the hands of the wealthy. Surely we have 
not outgrown this splendid teaching! I declare with- 
out hesitation that this great crisis is a divinely sent 
opportunity to re-establish the rule of Capital. Let us 
do as the Three have ordained, but let us go a step fur- 
ther. Let us hold what iron remains to us and sell it to 
the highest bidders. 

“With the wealth of the world in our grasp we, 
rulers by the divine right of wealth, can resume once 
more the supreme sway which is our right.” 

If the heretical speech of the young reporter awak- 
ened indignation in the breasts of his hearers, it was 
as nothing to the wave of horror which swept across 
the assembly at Weatherby’s words. The destruction of 
the iron mines meant poverty, but Weatherby’s inhuman 
suggestion meant anarchy ! 

The accustomed calm was broken by shouts of fury. 

“The Triangle! The Triangle! We invoke the Law 
of the Triangle!” 

Men and women surged towards the wizened figure 
of the little Floridian who stood grinning and gnashing 
his teeth impotently. 

“In the name of the Triangle, seize that man!” came 
Hector Shawn’s deep voice. 

A dozen men and women converged towards the bal- 
cony, Morton, the young reporter, among the first. A 
dozen arms were stretched out to grasp the vulpine fig- 
ure which stood shaking its fist and trembling, by the 
pillars overlooking the sea. 

But before a hand could be laid upon him, Weatherby 
turned and with surprising agility, leaped to the balus- 
trade, stood poised there for a moment, then sprang into 
space. 

There was a rush to the balcony. Heads craned over 
expecting to see the mangled corpse of the financier 
upon the rocks two hundred feet below. Instead, there 
was a tiny plane, hovering on its slowly turning helices. 
Weatherby was in the act of climbing into the seat by 
the pilot. 

He looked up at the line of angry faces and shook his 
puny fist once more. Then the plane rose like a rocket 
and hurtled out towards the open sea. 

Clifford Weatherby had shown his qualities as a strat- 
egist by covering his retreat! 



CHAPTER V 
Beneath the Glacier 

T HE afternoon sun beat down from a sky of cloud- 
less sapphire into the hidden valley in the heart 
of the Canadian Rockies. Over the spotless snow- 
fields, the heat shimmered with an almost intolerable 
glare. The contour of the nearer rocks stood out with 
lunar distinctness in the intense contrast of light and 
shade, but in the middle distance, the cliffs and but- 
tresses veiled themselves in the heat haze like a 
woman who adds to her allurements by half concealing 
her charms. 

Ralph Morton avoided the reflected rays as much as 
possible by keeping to the centre of the glacier where a 
longitudinal band of gravel and small stones formed a 
medial moraine. This moraine, composed of debris from 
the cliffs at the head of the valley, formed a pavement 
of such exceptional smoothness and regularity that it 
almost resembled a road, save that at intervals its 
progress was broken by small transverse crevasses, 
caused by irregularities in the bed rock over which the 
ice was obliged to flow T , just as hidden sandbars in the 
bed of a stream cause ripples on the surface of the 
water. 

Ralph swung along at a steady pace in his high climb- 
ing boots and jumped the occasional crevasses, none of 
which were more than a couple of feet in width. He 
whistled blithely to himself, rejoicing in the first free- 
dom from work which he had permitted himself for 
nearly a month. 

He, Geoffrey and Dr. Umetaro had mutually agreed to 
take an afternoon off and now each of the friends was 
spending it in his own w r ay. Geoffrey was taking a long 
flight over the barren lands of the north ; the Japanese 
doctor had elected to sit on the balcony of the workshop 
and meditate; while Ralph had taken his ice axe and 
gone for a tramp to the great icefalls at the head of the 
glacier. 

Ralph’s eyes were on the sublime scenery which sur- 
rounded him, but his thoughts were on the stirring 
events of the past four weeks. They passed in pano- 
rama before his mind, each seeming to be a step towards 
the attainment of a boyhood ambition, until now he was 
faced by a blank wall which rendered further progress 
impossible. 

When he and Geoffrey came to this secluded spot and 
built their aerial workshop, they had only the most 
indefinite plans for the future. They were stimulated 
by an unaltering determination to break down the artifi- 
cial barriers with which man had surrounded the nat- 
ural sciences, declaring “Thus far shalt thou go and no 
farther!” Just as the devout in past ages believed that 
religion was a complete revelation, so in these days, the 
dawn of the twenty-third century, man believed that 
science was finished. They studied the ancient writings 
and utilized to the full the teachings of the great scien- 
tists of the past, but the idea that science was suscepti- 
ble to further progress was utterly abhorrent to them. 

Ralph and Geoffrey were scientific freethinkers. They 
longed to break down these artificial barriers and show 
to the world by some great discovery that infinite possi- 
bilities still lay hidden in the womb of Nature. This 
supreme ambition sustained them through the years of 
preliminary study. At last they had decided to concen- 
trate their efforts on the mysterious problems of life 
and growth. Then came Ralph’s encounter with Dr. 
Umetaro in Denver. The young student snatched at the 
chance of enlisting the Japanese surgeon in the work 
which they had undertaken, but before the new partner- 
ship could begin to function came the news of the sud- 
den shortage of iron ore and the three friends realized 
that their great chance 'was before them. If they could 



452 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




There was a rush to 
the balcony. Heads 
craned over expecting 
to see the mangled 
corpse of the financier 
upon the rocks two 
hundred feet below. 



demonstrate that science and science alone could deal 
with this world crisis, science would once more resume 
her place as the symbol of progress, instead of welter- 
ing in a condition of stagnation, 

Ralph had disguised himself and gone to New York 
where, through Dr. Umetaro’s influence, he obtained a 
position on the staff of the Tele-Standard. He attended 
the great meeting of the ironmasters, filled with the 
enthusiasm of youth. It was inconceivable that man- 
kind could refuse to accept the help of science in this 
hour of travail. Next day he returned to the workshop 
in the mountains, crushed and humiliated. His sugges- 
tion had been spurned with horror and indignation. He 
had been branded as “Heretic” and “Traitor” and only 
«“• his youth and the excitement incident to the dramatic 
escape of Clifford Weatherby, had saved him from im- 
prisonment or worse. 

Dr. Umetaro had received the news of Ralph’s defeat 
with Oriental indifference. He had expected nothing 
else, knowing the inertia and hatred of change which 
characterizes the average human mind. 

“In your absence,” he told Ralph, “I have been in 
touch with our fellow scientists, the Rebels, in all 
parts of the world. They are unanimous that all work 
shall be dropped in order that our energies may be 
devoted entirely to this problem. Our spies have ob- 
tained samples of this sulphide of gold which is destroy- 
ing the iron ores and these samples have been distrib- 
uted to the secret research laboratories in all Divisions. 
Our share has arrived and we must now throw ourselves 
into the task of finding some way of reversing the action 
of this mysterious disease. One thing is logically cer- 
tain. The gold sulphide is a product of the transmuta- 
tion of oxide of iron. Therefore there must be some 





A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



453 



process by which it can be restored to its original form. 

“And now, to work! Knowing that our efforts are 
being supported by a thousand eager hands and brains 
wherever the Rebels are found.” 

A MONTH later the enthusiasm of the three friends 
was undimmed, but their optimism was sadly 
diminished. They subjected the sulphide of gold to every 
reagent and treatment, physical, electrical, chemical and 
radiological, which their combined ingenuity could de- 
vise, but without a trace of success. The Doctor, who 
kept in constant touch with the Headquarters of the 
Rebels by means of a portable radio set which he had 
brought from Japan, had nothing but negative news to 
report. Iron still remained the master element. It alone 
was capable of endless varieties of allotropic forms. Gold 
was practically worthless. It possessed properties of 
resistance to corrosion and ductility, which rendered it 
useful in certain very restricted fields, as, for example, 
for cooking utensils, but that was all that could be said 
for it. As a substitute for the widespread uses of iron, 
it was unthinkable. 

Must the world pay for its marvelous social advance- 
ment by a corresponding setback in material civiliza- 
tion ? Was there no remedy for the loss of the iron 
mines save the retrograde policy decreed by the Three? 
Was it possible that science would fail her worshippers 
in the hour of their need? 

Such thoughts as these passed through Ralph’s mind 
as he followed the winding course of the great ice-river. 
Presently he rounded a bulging buttress of grey rock 
and entered the confines of the huge amphitheatre in 
which the glacier had its source. 

Science and the world crisis were driven from his 
mind by the transcendent beauty of the seene. In the 
centre rose a pinnacle of black limestone earning a 
horizontal band of red strata, like a dagger of obsidian 
inlaid with rubies. On one side of this turret an ice- 
fall glittered in the sun with a riot of prismatic hues ; 
on the other a curtain of virgin snow seemed to hang 
pendant from the peaks, its spotless surface sweeping 
down in a wealth of gracious curves, which would have 
put the sculptor’s art to shame. 

Ralph’s eyes took in the magnificent panorama of 
rock and ice and snow with a rapture which lost none of 
its keenness with familiarity. He had climbed that 
black dagger by a dozen different routes. He had 
threaded his way through the tangled maze of the ice- 
fall to the frozen summit of the peak it guarded. He 
had plodded up that shining snow-curtain and over the 
ten thousand-foot pass which led into the adjacent 
valley. 

He allowed his vision to travel slowly up the white 
curves, living again in recollection the happy days he 
had spent amid their unsullied expanses. Suddenly his 
attention was fixed by a moving speck, a spot of pale 
blue, which on closer inspection resolved itself into a 
human figure working its way down the steep slopes 
below the pass. 

His surprise was mingled with dismay. He and Geof- 
frey had chosen this wild valley for their workshop and 
laboratory, secure in their belief that no other human 
being was likely to intrude upon their privacy. Was 
this privacy to be broken in upon by curious outsiders? 
At this time, of all others, the result of discovery 
might be disastrous. Once the Three got wind of their 
investigations, Ralph and his friends would be forced 
to flee, or face the certainty of imprisonment as disturb- 
ers of the world’s welfare. 

Ralph pulled out a light telescope from a pocket of 
his tunic and examined the distant figure, which was 
slowly but steadily descending towards him. It w'as a 
woman; a young girl, apparently. As she drew nearer, 



he could see that her body was that of a young Diana, 
lithe and beautiful. Poised like an eagle in full flight, 
she carried her head with boyish alertness. The softly 
blending contours of her throat and breasts echoed the 
gracious curves of the snowfields that she was descend- 
ing. Her skin was burned to creamy tan by exposure to 
the ardent sun of the northern summer. She braced 
herself with skill and confidence by means of her 
climber’s axe as she drove her heavily booted heels into 
the yielding surface of the steep snow. 

As Ralph watched her, the girl reached a point where 
the slope eased off into the borders of the curtain, whose 
hem rested upon the glacial ice a hundred yards from 
where he stood. She was now near enough so that she 
was distinctly visible without the aid of the glass. Ralph 
saw her stop, transfer her ice axe to the other hand, and 
rest its point upon the slope behind her. Next moment 
she was skimming down the snow like a feather, 
body erect, one foot advanced, the other knee bent, in 
the graceful “standing glissade” of the born mountaineer. 

Ralph’s instinctive admiration was changed into a 
thrill of horror as he realized that the girl was sliding 
to almost certain death. At one point the “hem” of the 
snow curtain, instead of resting upon the level ice, was 
separated from it by a great crevasse or “bergsehrund” 
as it is known to climbers. The intrepid climber was 
flashing down into the jaws of this abyss, whose depths 
might reach to the very bottom of the ice. 

Shouting warnings, Ralph started to run towards the 
bergsehrund. There was a good chance that the girl 
could stop herself in time to avoid the threatened dis- 
aster, but the very thing which was her only hope of 
salvation, proved to be her undoing. Believing herself 
to be alone, the sudden outburst of sound disturbed the 
delicacy of her balance. She turned her head. The axe 
was whipped from her grasp. She tripped, fell forward, 
lost all semblance of control. She shot downward with 
ever increasing speed until she passed over the lip of 
the crevasse and vanished into the indigo depths, just as 
Ralph ended his mad race at the near edge. 

He flung himself face downward upon the ice, frantic 
with dismay. It was incredible that this fair girl, the 
living embodiment of joyous health should, in the flash 
of an eye, have been hurled into Eternity. Was it possi- 
ble that she still lived? Dared he entertain a trace of 
hope after such a fearful plunge? He shouted. There 
was no answer but the slow drip of water falling into a 
mystery of purple shadows. 

Yes, there was a faint chance that the girl might 
have escaped instant death. Just below the trough, 
which marked the course of her helpless body down the 
snow-slope, the wall of the bergsehrund instead of being 
vertical, followed the angle of the slope above, thus 
forming a projection, something like the flying but- 
tresses which jut out from the walls of old cathedrals. 
If by some miracle the girl’s helpless body had followed 
the course of this narrow ramp, whose lower end was 
hidden in gloom, and had landed upon the pile of ava- 
lanche snow which often choked the bottom of such cre- 
vasses, there was a bare possibility that she might have 
survived. Perhaps, even now, she was regaining con- 
sciousness, only to be faced with the terrible certainty 
of death by freezing. 

Ralph had no intention of leaving the spot until he 
had rescued the girl or made certain that she was dead. 
He would descend into the bergsehrund no matter what 
the risk. 

Everywhere the icy walls fell away sheer, save for the 
ramp and that was on the opposite side of the crevasse, 
which gaped to its full width of a dozen yards along 
the whole breadth of the mountain. At one place a frail 
bridge of frozen snow, the remnant of some avalanche 
which had filled the bergsehrund earlier in the year, 



454 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



spanned the gulf and offered the only means of gaining 
the top of the ramp. 

R ALPH had crossed many such bridges in the past. 

He had descended slopes of slippery ice fully as 
steep as that awful ramp. It was one thing to face 
such perils with trusted companions to whom he was 
united by means of the alpinists’ rope and quite another 
thing to take his life in his hands alone, with the cer- 
tainty that a single mis-step spelled sure death. 

He crossed the bridge sprawled out at full length to 
distribute his weight. More than once he felt the snow 
settle under the strain. At last with a gasp of relief, 
he dug his axe into solid snow and drew himself to 
safety. 

If the crossing of the snow bridge had seemed to 
occupy a lifetime of suspense, surely the descent of the 
ice ramp must be measured in terms of eternity! The 
steps he cut were little more than niches for the nailed 
edges of his boots. The cutting of each new step repre- 
sented new tortures of insecurity ; periods during which 
the stability of his balance was constantly threatened 
by the necessity of leaning down to swing the axe. 

Fifty, seventy, a hundred feet. His difficulties were 
increasing with every foot, for the gathering darkness 
and the weird, unreal shadows, tended to make his 
equilibrium even more uncertain. The bergschrund was 
wedge-shaped and the walls were closing in on him. The 
farther wall was now a bare three yards away. 

He peered down, but could distinguish nothing. The 
narrowing walls added a new horror to a situation al- 
ready terrible enough. What if the girl were lying 
crushed between the jaws of ice, head downwards, still 
living, but held in a grip from which it would be impos- 
sible to extricate her ? 

Chip! chip! chip! The splinters of ice tinkled down 
and disappeared into silence and darkness. Suddenly, 
when he was beginning to w r onder how much longer his 
tortured muscles could stand the strain, he swung his 
axe to cut one more step and its blade encountered some- 
thing soft. For a moment he tottered helplessly, strug- 
gling to regain his balance, and then plunged head fore- 
most into a pile of wet snow. 

He sat up and looked around him. For a few moments 
he could distinguish nothing. Then his eyes became 
accustomed to the dim, ultramarine light and he saw 
the body of the girl lying close to where he had fallen, 
a pitiful little crumpled hdap. 

He placed a hand over her heart and felt a faint 
throb. She was alive! Snatching off his tunic, he 
wrapped it around her and began to chafe her icy hands 
and arms. Presently he was rewarded by a sigh, fol- 
lowed by a slight movement. 

How lovely she was! But how fearfully white, save 
where a smear of crimson blood marred her forehead 
and matted the tendrils of her fair hair. He slipped one 
arm around her shoulders to raise her from the snow. 

At the touch, her lashes trembled and then rose, re- 
vealing eyes like the petals of a purple pansy; eyes 
which looked at him in wonder and then with amaze- 
ment and fear. 

“Oh! Where am I? What has happened?” she 
murmured. 

“Don’t be frightened,” said Ralph, reassuringly. 
“You had an accident, but you’re safe now.” 

“I — I don’t understand. I was coming down from the 
pass. Someone shouted and then I fell. Was it you 
who shouted? What is this awful place?” 

“Yes, I shouted to warn you,” said Ralph, continuing 
his efforts to restore circulation. “There was a berg- 
schrund at the bottom of the slope and you fell into it. 
You shouldn’t glissade a slope unless you know where it 
ends, you know,” he added sententiously, “there’s near- 



ly always a bergschrund where a snowfield -joins a 
glacier.” 

“Thank you so much for telling me,” said the girl, 
with a faint touch of satire, softened by a most adorable 
smile. Ralph was beginning to think that life was well 
worth living, even at the bottom of a glacier, when beau- 
tiful girls smiled at one like that ! 

“Are we at the bottom of the bergschrund now?” she 
asked, “And how did you get down here?” 

“I came down the same way you did,” Ralph an- 
swered, “only not quite so fast. I had to cut steps and 
it took a long time, I’m afraid.” 

“Well, I really had begun to wonder what was keep- 
ing you,” said the girl with a little choking, hysterical 
laugh. “I th-th-think you must have saved my life.” 
She burst into an agony of tears and buried her face on 
his shoulder, while he patted her golden curls and mur- 
mured incoherent phrases of comfort. 

Presently she raised her streaming eyes to his. 

“I’m sorry. I did make several kinds of fool of my- 
self. Please forgive me. You see, I haven’t made a 
habit of falling into bergschrunds. This is my first 
attempt and I seem to have made rather a mess of it.” 

“You’re not hurt, are you?” asked Ralph solicitously. 

“No, thank you,” she replied. “At least, I don’t think 
so. Will you please help me up?” 

With Ralph’s aid, she struggled to her feet and stood 
looking around. 

“No bones broken. Bruise on one knee and an awful 
headache,” she summed up. “Not so bad for a first 
effort. Oh! I’ve got your tunic! You poor fellow, you 
must be frozen. No, I insist on your taking it. I’m 
perfectly warm now.” 

Ralph experienced little unfamiliar tremors in his 
spinal column as she wrapped the tunic around his shoul- 
ders and fastened the throat-chain by means of the 
earved name-plate, which was universally worn, by men 
on the front of the neck, and by w r omen at the intersec- 
tion of the breast-ribbons. 

“And now, Ralph Morton, what about getting out 
again?” she said. 

Ralph glanced at the triangular golden plate on her 
bosom. It bore the name “Lotus Grenville.” Lotus! 
Where had he heard that name before? Such an un- 
common name and yet so perfectly in harmony with its 
bearer. She shone in that awful place like some glori- 
ous tropical blossom in the last gleam of twilight. 

“If you are strong enough, Lotus Grenville,” he re- 
plied, as he took her hand, his lips lingering over the 
name with the sensation of a caress, “we will try to 
solve that problem.” 

Ralph faced the problem of their escape w'ith the same 
matter-of-fact courage with which he had tackled the 
descent of the ice-ramp, but with even less hope of suc- 
cess. He knew that he could return by the way he came, 
but as for taking Lotus up those appalling steps, he dis- 
missed the idea without a moment’s consideration. If 
his splendid muscles had almost failed him on the de- 
scent, what chance was there of Lotus reaching the 
top, shaken and exhausted as she was by her terrible 
experience. 

“I shall have to explore a bit,” he said, cheerfully. 
“Do you mind being left alone for a few minutes?” 

“Of course not, Ralph,” the girl replied, bravely. 
“You won’t be long, will you?” 

“Not a second longer that I can help. I want to find 
the easiest way up.” 

The pile of soft snow upon which Lotus had fallen 
filled the space between the two sides of the bergschrund 
which, at this point, was about eight feet wide and ran 
in both directions like a narrow passage with walls of 
purple ice a hundred feet in height and a ceiling of blue 
sky and white, drifting clouds. 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 455 



R ALPH started eastward along the passage, hoping 
that he might find some narrow place filled with 
snow, up which he might scoop a ladder of steps to the 
surface. 

Almost immediately he found himself descending the 
mound of snow and he set foot on solid rock, the actual 
bed of the glacier, polished to the smoothness of a ferro- 
lith pavement by the slow, eternal progress of the ice- 
river. 

As he continued along the length of the bergschrund, 
he noted with some surprise that the rock of which the 
pavement was formed, differed from any mineral which 
he had ever encountered in his long experience of geol- 
ogy. Even the urgent nature of his quest for freedom 
could not entirely suppress the enthusiasm of the scien- 
tist and he stooped down to feel the rock. It had the 
slightly greasy texture of soapstone and was brilliant 
amethyst in hue. He noted that the nails of his boots 
bit into the rock as though it were chalk. 

With a couple of blows of his axe, he cut loose a frag- 
ment of the mysterious mineral and slipped it into the 
pocket of his tunic. 

Presently he heard the sound of running water and 
found a small stream which cascaded down the wall and 
ran away eastward. Ralph continued for some time in 
the same direction, splashing through the running water 
which was constantly augmented by additions from 
above. When he reached a distance from his starting 
point which he estimated at about half a mile, the shin- 
ing walls began to draw closer and closer until he could 
span them with outstretched hands. Now or never he 
must find some means of exit from the abyss. 

Closer and closer came the walls until he could barely 
find room for his shoulders and then, just as he was 
about to abandon hope and turn back, the right hand 
wall took a sharp turn, the passage opened out and he 
found himself standing at the bottom of a great circular 
pit. The slippery walls rose sheer and glistened wetly 
in the reflected light of day. A welter of spray filled 
the huge pit, like a giant’s showerbath. His ears were 
assailed by the muffled roar of the falling water. 

He was standing in what is known to climbers as a 
monlin, or mill, circular shaft in the ice, generally found 
at the junction of several smaller crevasses. Such 
moulins serve to carry the drainage from the surface of 
the glacier to the bedrock below. Every mountaineer is 
familiar with them, but Ralph was certainly the first 
man to reach the bottom of one alive. 

His amazement and admiration for the weird beauty 
of his surroundings was suddenly arrested by the sight 
of a low archway on the farther side of the moulin. 
Semicircular in outline and perhaps five feet in height, 
it cut into the ice like the entrance to a tunnel, and as 
he peered through the swirling spray, he could see the 
floor of the tunnel as a rushing torrent of w r ater. 

In a moment he realized the origin of the strange 
passage, and his heart leaped at the hope of escape 
which it afforded. Wild and improbable in the extreme, 
still it was a hope. 

The archway, whose perfection and symmetry gave 
it the appearance of man’s handiwork, was the result 
of the friction of the water, in its mad race for the 
open. In the tongue of the glacier, far down the val- 
ley, was a great cave, from which emerged the river 
which watered the forests of the lowlands. This tun- 
nel was one of many such natural passages which con- 
verged to the great cave and fed the river. 

There was one chance in a thousand that the tunnel 
might be passable throughout. Any one of a hundred 
things might result in failure or even disaster, but they 
must take that slim chance and pray the All Wise for 
a successful outcome to the mad enterprise. Ralph 



turned and hurried back along the amethyst pavement 
to where he had left the girl. 

As he drew near, he shouted to apprise her of his 
coming. There was no reply. Fearful lest some fur- 
ther accident might have befallen her, he broke into 
a run. 

Lotus was lying on the heap of snow, her fair head 
pillowed on one outflung arm, her eyes closed. Her dis- 
play of strength had been a flash in the pan, a brave 
effort to deceive Ralph and encourage him in what she 
believed to be a hopeless enterprise. The blow on her 
head had been more serious than he realized, and no 
sooner had he left her than she relapsed into 
unconsciousness. 

If they stayed there, there was no prospect save 
death. First Lotus and then he would yield their lives 
to the chilling breath of the ice. There was only one 
thing to do and he did it. 

Having wrapped her once more in his tunic, he picked 
her up in his arms and started back along the berg- 
schrund. When he reached the great shaft, he edged 
his way around the wall, almost blinded and beaten 
down by the pitiless force of the spray, until he could 
enter the archway. 

At first, the torrent in which he waded was barely 
ankle deep, but his difficulties were increased by the 
necessity of stooping to avoid striking his head against 
the low roof. 

He struggled on in the unearthly purple light which 
filtered feebly through a hundred feet of ice. He could 
barely discern the lovely face which glimmered white 
and ghost-like against his breast. Presently the tunnel 
grew higher and he was able to walk erect, but now 
the torrent was knee deep and its force constantly 
threatened to carry him from his footing. 

Often he passed the openings of other tunnels, each 
of which added its share of icy water to swell the tor- 
rent. Now it reached his waist and he was obliged to 
call forth his last reserve of strength to lift his burden 
above the surface. The dim light was growing dimmer 
and blending into crimson. Far above his head, the 
world was glowing in the luminescence of sunset. Would 
he ever see another sunrise or would night find two 
frozen lifeless bodies? 

His limbs were growing numb with cold and fatigue. 
He passed another tunnel. The water was up to his 
breast and he tried in vain to raise the girl’s inert body 
above it. 

The effort sapped the last trace of his strength. He 
strove in vain against the raging torrent which beat 
against his back. Suddenly his feet were carried from 
under him. Convulsively he clasped the girl to him. 
His senses were blotted out and the two bodies were 
hurled fonvard beneath the glacier, clasped in the em- 
brace of death. 

CHAPTER VI. 

A Cupid from Japan 

N OW dimly, now clearly, like visions of verdant 
valleys seen through rifts in a drifting sea of 
cloud from a mountain top, consciousness came 
back to Ralph Morton. 

At first, it was hardly more than the smeared pictures 
of dreamland, forming and fading like ripples on the 
surface of a woodland pool, a pool reflecting a jumble 
of blurred images, of which only one possessed sufficient 
cohesion to enable it to persist for more than a moment 
— the image of a mass of golden curls; a pair of eyes, 
pansy-purple; a face, chiselled with the delicacy and 
charm of an oriental carving in alabaster, but white. 



456 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



terribly white, whiter than any alabaster, save for 
that trickle of crimson blood upon the brow. 

Gradually the images grew clearer, less dreamlike, 
until he became conscious of the awareness of life, of 
self; a consciousness unmingled as yet with the desire 
or even the power of physical movement. Now he real- 
ized whence came that persistent image. Hesitatingly, 
as one who experiments with a paralyzed muscle, his 
lips formed themselves into a name: “Lotus!” 

He remembered the fearsome descent into the depths 
of the bergschrund, the staggering progress through 
the icy tunnels, the hopeless struggle with the numbing 
torrent. Was this Death? Were these images the 
first sensations of a disembodied spirit? Surely no 
flicker of life could have survived that raging torrent. 

Tentatively he raised his eyelids. Still the image of 
that fair face persisted, but now the alabaster was 
tinted with rose. The high forehead, a little drawn as 
though in anxiety was no longer marred with blood, 
but the golden curls were bound with a white bandage. 
The purple eyes brooded over him with the alert watch- 
fulness of a mother. 

“Lotus!” 

This time his voice kept time with his lips. At the 
word, the tense face relaxed. The eyes were irradiated 
with a smile, whose joyousness overflowed those purple 
pools and curved the lips into a scarlet bow. 

“Ralph! Oh, Ralph! You’ve come back. Geoffrey! 
Dr. Umetaro! Come quickly! He’s conscious !” 

The full realization of life burst over him like a flood 
of happiness. He lay on his sleeping couch on the roof- 
space of the workshop. The yellow flexifer awnings 
were drawn back revealing a cloudless summer sky. He 
felt no pain, but his head seemed numb. Putting up his 
hand, he encountered a mass of dressings. 

“You mustn’t touch your head!” Lotus exclaimed, and 
he thrilled to the touch of her hand as she laid it arrest- 
ingly on his. “You were terribly hurt, Ralph, but you’ll 
soon be better now.” 

“What happened?” Ralph murmured. “How did we 
escape from the glacier?” 

“Dr. Umetaro saved us, as you saved me, Ralph!” 
said the girl, her eyes glowing. “Your head must have 
struck something. You’ve been unconscious for three 
days. We — your friend Geoffrey has been almost crazy 
for fear that you might not revive.” 

Now there were two other faces smiling beside that 
of Lotus Grenville the austere, yellow features of the 
Doctor and the ugly, scarred face which was so dear to 
him, the face of the blond Vulcan, Geoffrey Von Elmar. 

“Lotus tells me that you saved both our lives, Doc- 
tor,” said Ralph, smiling up at those smiling faces. 
“Tell me what happened. I don’t remember anything 
after I was swept off my feet by the torrent.” 

“As your friend, I should be delighted to enlighten 
you, Mr. Morton,” replied the Doctor, “but as your 
physician I must prefer sleep and rest.” 

“But I can’t rest!” exclaimed Ralph, starting up, only 
to sink back with a groan of weakness. “Good heav- 
ens ! We’re wasting time when I ought to be working 
on the iron disease.” 

“Don’t worry, my friend,” said the Doctor, sooth- 
ingly. “Submit yourself to a slight treatment and then 
perhaps you will feel better and we can talk about 
these matters.” 

The Doctor drew down the sheet from Ralph’s shoul- 
ders and began a process which resembled but faintly 
the rubbing and pounding which passed for massage in 
past ages. The long, tapering fingers of the Japanese 
flew over the skin of his subject, lingering here and 
there with a light pressure on this or that nerve and 
blood vessel. 



Within a minute or two, Ralph’s eyes lost their fever- 
ish excitement, then closed and presently his breathing 
lengthened into the even respirations of natural slum- 
ber. The Doctor ceased his manipulations and stood 
watching the sleeper thoughtfully. 

“It will be well that our friend should not worry about 
anything for a while,” he said, turning to the others. 
“The injured brain must not be submitted to any un- 
necessary strain. Come, let us see!” 

He bent over Ralph once more, his sensitive finger 
tips seeking some hidden spot at the back of the neck. 
Presently he straightened up with a nod of satisfaction. 

“There! That is well,” he said. “Now he will rest. You, 
Mr. Von Elmar, shall watch with our friend by night. 
You, Lotus San, shall watch by day. And I, the little 
doctor who begins to love you all, will watch both day 
and night. With such care, our brave friend will be well 
in a week. Then we will work!” 

W HEN Ralph awakened, it was with a total ab- 
sence of pain and worry. Somewhat to Geof- 
frey’s surprise, he seemed content to lie and watch the 
clouds drifting above the mountains or to talk quietly 
with his friends. There was no further mention of the 
great problem which had caused him so much agitation 
upon his first return to consciousness. The hours just 
drifted by in unruffled calm, utterly foreign to Ralph’s 
usually dynamic temperament. 

When Lotus Grenville brought him his meals or came 
to her place at his side, the placid happiness of his 
expression was accentuated and his eyes never left her 
face until Geoffrey came to relieve her. From the first 
it was obvious to Geoffrey and the Doctor that there was 
a deep understanding growing up between these two, 
one of those comradeships based upon sane affection and 
perfect mutual understanding which were so common 
between men and women in that happy age. 

The week of convalescence, which Dr. Umetaro had 
prescribed, drew to a close and one morning he came to 
Ralph’s bedside with Lotus, just as Geoffrey was about 
to relinquish his watch. 

“How is our patient feeling today?” he greeted 
smilingly. 

“Splendid, thank you, Doctor,” Ralph replied cheer- 
fully, “But I shall be jolly glad when I can dispense with 
these bandages.” 

“Then you shall be ‘jolly glad’ in a few minutes, my 
friend,” said the Doctor. “I think that I have a sur- 
prise in store for you.” 

“A surprise?” puzzled Ralph. “What is that?” 
“About these bandages of which you speak. May I 
ask how you sustained the injury to your head which 
made the bandages necessary.” 

Lotus and Geoffrey looked up at the Japanese scientist 
in astonishment. Was it possible that he suspected 
Ralph of a serious injury to the brain; an injury which 
might involve permanent loss of memory? Ralph, how- 
ever, expressed no surprise, either in expression or 
voice. 

“Of course I can’t tell you that,” he said calmly. “I 
have only been here for a week!” 

“Just what do you mean by ‘here’?” queried the 
doctor. 

“In this life, of course,” was Ralph’s amazing reply. 
Lotus opened her lips to speak, but the Doctor stopped 
her with a smile and a gesture. 

“You have no recollection of any life before this in 
which you find yourself, Mr. Morton ?” he asked. 

“Certainly not!” Ralph answered with a renewal of 
that puzzled expression. “Why should I?” 

“You are right. Why should you, indeed?” said the 
doctor, his smile broadening into something very like 
exultation. “And now I will remove your bandages.” 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 457 



A few snips of the scissors and the white gauze fell 
away. When they were loose, the doctor removed a 
small, curiously shaped object from the back of Ralph’s 
neck, where it had been held by the pressure of the 
wrappings. Gently but firmly the scientist massaged the 
flesh where this object had rested and then, holding out 
his hand, assisted his patient to rise. 

Ralph sat on the edge of the sleeping couch, an expres- 
sion of utter bewilderment on his face. He looked from 
one to another until his gaze came to rest on the girl, 
lingering there for a dozen seconds. Then he passed 
his hand uncertainly across his brow. 

“Lotus — Lotus — I don’t understand — what has hap- 
pened,” he stammered brokenly. 

In a moment she was beside him, her arm around his 
shoulder, her cheek against his. 

“It’s all right, Ralph. I’m here. It’s all right!” she 
crooned, and then, with a flash of fiery indignation to 
the still smiling doctor. “What have you done. Oh! 
What have you done to him?” 

“Do not be alarmed, Lotus San,” said the Japanese, 
reassuringly. “Our friend will soon find himself. Doubt- 
less it is a shock to find that he was more than a week 
old.” 

Ralph raised his head with a little smile trembling on 
his lips. 

“It was a bit of shock, Doctor,” he said, “but it’s all 
coming back now. The last thing I remember is your 
saying, ‘Then we will work!”’ 

“I owe you a little explanation, my friends,” said the 
doctor. “It has long been recognized that in many cases 
of injury, particularly those which affect the brain, 
recovery is much retarded by the tendency of the mind 
to dwell upon previous e%'ents, or, as we should say, to 
worry. For many years the medical section of the 
Rebels has devoted much study to this problem, espe- 
cially along the lines of discovering a harmless anaes- 
thetic by means of which the patient could be kept 
unconscious until he was completely recovered. 

“We had worked and experimented for nearly fifty 
years when, almost by accident, I found that by superfi- 
cial pressure upon certain nerves-centres it was possible 
to temporarily destroy the function of memory without 
any injury to the patient and without the slightest 
unpleasant after effects. I have only recently perfected 
the technique of this treatment and our friend here is 
the first case in which it has been practically applied. 
You can understand, therefore, my gratification at the 
entire success of my method. With the brain completely 
free from all worry about the future and undisturbed by 
any memory of the terrible experiences through which 
he had passed, Mr. Morton has recovered from his in- 
jury in a mere fraction of the time which would ordi- 
narily be necessary.” 

That evening Ralph found an opportunity to ask 
Geoffrey a question which had been hovering in his mind 
ever since he had recovered the full sense of his 
faculties. 

“Tell me something, Geoff,” he said. “I notice that 
you and Dr. Umetaro talk quite freely before Lotus, of 
our scientific work. Is it possible that she, too, is one 
of these Rebels?” 

“Not at all, old man,” replied his friend. “In fact she 
has every reason to feel a strong antagonism to our 
aims; stronger reasons than anyone in the 'world, except 
perhaps one other. But she has other reasons which 
incline her to regard our investigations in a favorable 
light and I think I may say that the latter reasons far 
outbalance the former !” 

“Don’t be mysterious, Geoff!” exclaimed Ralph, “What 
are these reasons and who is she that she should be so 
antagonistic to us?” 

“Those are questions which you had better ask her 



yourself!” Geoffrey answered, his ugly face wrinkling 
into smiles. 

Ralph relapsed into thoughtful silence for a few 
moments and then changed the subject. 

“Tell me how we ever came out from under the glacier 
alive,” he said. “I take it for granted that you or the 
Doctor found us.” 

“It was the Doctor,” Geoffrey answered. “You re- 
member that when you started for the head of the 
glacier and I left for a flight to Aklavik, he decided to 
sit on the balcony and meditate. He seems to have tired 
of that and decided to walk down to the tongue of the 
glacier and examine the ice cave from which the river 
flows. 

“While he was standing there, he saw something blue 
flash by in the torrent. Without the slightest idea of 
what it might be, he ran down stream after it until he 
came to that shallow— you know the place, Ralph. Well, 
he waded in and dragged you both to the bank. Then he 
started to work on you. Honestly, that man is a mar- 
vel! I should have given you up for drowned, for 
neither of you were breathing. He worked over you for 
nearly two hours. 

“Lotus was the first to recover, for she had suffered 
no bodily injury, thanks to your protection. You seem 
to have rammed your head against a rock and the best 
he could do was to get your lungs working. When he 
was satisfied that you were out of danger, he built a 
big ‘smudge’ to attract my attention when I returned 
from the north. Of course, he couldn’t leave either of 
you, and he couldn’t carry you both. Well, I saw the 
smudge and I guess that’s all.” 

I T was only after considerable effort that Ralph suc- 
ceeded in worming out of his friend the account of 
his own share in the rescue; how he had been obliged 
to land his plane on the flat ice a mile above the glacier 
tongue ; how he had picked Ralph up in his mighty arms 
like a baby and carried him over boulders and crevasses 
to the plane and then hurried back to relieve the Doctor, 
who was following more slowly with Lotus. And finally 
how the two of them had watched over him day and 
night, for nearly seventy hours, forgetting sleep and 
even food until Lotus, refusing to stay on her couch, 
brought them something and relieved them beside the 
unconscious man, who, as though in response to the call 
of her presence, regained his senses almost immediately. 

The three friends plunged into their work with re- 
newed energy while Lotus established herself in the 
role of housekeeper, it being taken for granted that she 
would not return to her lonely cabin on the meadows 
beyond the snow pass. A week elapsed before Ralph 
found the chance to ask her the questions which Geof- 
frey had declined to answer. 

Geoffrey and the Doctor had gone to Winnipeg to 
obtain supplies and did not return until late. After din- 
ner, the other two were sitting on the balcony when 
Ralph broached the subject. 

“You are interested in what we are trying to do, are 
you not, Lotus?” he said, 

“Yes, very much,” she answered, simply. 

“And you sympathize?” he asked. 

“More than I can tell you, Ralph.” 

“That seems strange when the world is against us. 
Geoff tells me that there is some special reason why 
you should be bitterly opposed to our investigations and 
another reason why you favor them. He was very 
mysterious about it. Will you explain what he meant?” 
“It’s nothing very mysterious, Ralph. I am an orphan 
and I live with my uncle, who is also my guardian. He 
is Clifford Weatherby.” 

“Clifford Weatherby — the financier!” Ralph ex- 
claimed. 



458 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



A great light illuminated his mind. What wonder if 
the niece of Weatherby, the great Ironmaster, should 
shrink from the men who were working in opposition to 
her uncle, who stood to gain untold wealth from the 
failure of their research ! 

“I understand, Lotus,” he said, at last, 

‘‘Oh ! But you don’t, Ralph,” she cried. “My uncle is 
a throw-back. He seems to have inherited his instincts 
from some ancestor in the twentieth century. He loves 
his wealth for the mere joy of possession and for the 
power it may give him over other men. He hates to see 
everybody happy and comfortable as they are today. 
He wants to feel that people owe their happiness and 
comfort to him, and are his slaves as the poor folk were 
slaves of the rich in the old, bad days. He rejoiced at 
the news of this terrible disease which is destroying the 
iron ore, because he believed that it would restore the 
power of wealth. He tried to persuade the other iron- 
masters to join him in a — a monopoly, I think they 
called it, so that people would have to pay enormous 
prices for the necessities of life, but they wouldn’t 
hear him.” 

“Then you don’t fall in with your uncle’s views?” 
Ralph asked. 

“I hate them!” she cried, her eyes flashing in the 
starlight. “Oh! Ralph, surely the All Wise would not 
permit such a horrible thing !” 

Ralph’s hand reached out and found hers in a clasp 
of understanding. 

“But what about my other question, Lotus?” he said, 
his voice trembling a little. “Geoff says that you have 
some special reason for approving of our experiments. 
What is that?” 

“I — I can’t tell you,” she said, turning towards him 
to meet his eyes, her own shining like sapphires. “You 
will have to guess that for yourself, Ralph.” 

Ralph possessed himself of her other hand. 

“Shall I answer my own question by asking you 
another?” he smiled. 

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. 

“Shall we be companions, Lotus? 1 love you.” 

“Your question answers your question, Ralph,” she 
said tenderly. “I love you too, my dearest, and I will 
be your companion for all our lives,” and she raised 
her face to his for their first kiss. 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Dark Star 

A FTER Ralph’s recovery, the three men threw 
themselves into their work with redoubled energy. 
u A new spirit seemed to penneate the little com- 
munity with the coming of Lotus Grenville. Failure — 
and failure was all they had to show for their efforts — 
no longer brought discouragement. Ralph and Lotus 
were happy in their new-found love and the joyous pros- 
pect of life-long companionship which was to be theirs. 
Geoffrey was happy in the happiness of his friends, 
although Ralph, to whom Geoff’s emotions were an open 
book, thought that at times he could detect a certain 
wistful sadness in the latter’s expression as he contem- 
plated the perfect concord which marked the relation- 
ship of the lovers. 

Dr. Umetaro showed his racial traits by exhibiting 
little emotion, either of hope or discouragement, assum- 
ing with calm fatalism that if they were destined to 
succeed they i would succeed, and if not — well, they 
would fail! 

News from the outside world reached them by way 
of the telenewspapers. Under the direct supervision of 
John Ballantyne and Hector Shawn of the Three, every 
scrap of untainted ore was being removed from the 



mines in frantic haste. Thousands of gigantic freight 
planes were rushing the ore southward to the Antarctic, 
to be piled in huge dumps on the eternal ice fields where 
it would be safe from the ravages of the mysterious 
disease. 

So rapid was the progress of the disease that the 
total amount of ore saved was pitifully small; barely 
enough to feed the ferroverters which supplied the 
world with necessities, for a period of five years. In 
that short space of time the people would have to re- 
model their entire economic system and themselves with 
it. In a world unaccustomed to changes of any sort for 
two hundred years, and conservative to a degree which 
would have been unthinkable in the twentieth century, 
the task of effecting this transformation in so short a 
time appeared almost hopeless. 

True, there was no danger of starvation, but it 
should be remembered that every age acquires a set of 
habits determined by its environments, and that any- 
thing which disturbs these habits produces an effect out 
of all proportion to their intrinsic importance. The 
lack of telephone and electric lights meant nothing to 
the ancient Romans, who had never been accustomed 
to these conveniences. On the other hand, a total fail- 
ure of the lighting and communication systems in the 
days of President Hoover and King George V. would 
have meant economic disruption and perhaps anarchy. 

It will be easily understood, therefore, with what dis- 
may the Board of Control regarded the destruction of 
the iron mines, the more so that many of the materials 
which had been supplanted by transmuted iron, could 
not be returned to production in less than forty or fifty 
years, if at all. Wood, for example, had not been used 
in manufacturing or building for two centuries. With 
the population spread over the whole habitable world, 
trees were grown solely for their sesthetic appeal. Ex- 
cept for the high mountain regions, great forests were 
things of the past. 

Combine these facts with the tremendous difficulty 
of developing machinery for cutting and working lum- 
ber, to say nothing of training the workers, and the 
immensity of the problem can be seen. Multiply this 
difficulty a hundredfold to cover all the ramifications 
of the arts which allotropic iron had supplanted — is it 
any wonder that the Board of Control shrank from its 
task of reorganization? 

After his recovery, Ralph pored over the filed copies 
of the New York Tele-Post for some account of Clifford 
Weatherby. A few days after his dramatic escape from 
the Ironmasters’ Convention, he had gone to Santa 
Lucia and tendered a public apology to the Three for his 
defection, and stated that the ore in the mines which he 
controlled had been entirely destroyed by the disease. 
The Three banished him for a year to his Florida home 
and issued a proclamation that no citizen was to hold 
communication with him during that period. Weather- 
by accepted the punishment with humility and left 
Santa Lucia the same day. He had not been heard of 
since. 

Lotus Grenville was much distressed by the news. 

“I can’t sympathize with my uncle’s views,” she said 
to Ralph, “but now that he is in trouble I feel that he 
needs me. Ought I not go back to him?” 

“You cannot do that, dearest, without incurring the 
displeasure of the Three,” Ralph reminded her. 

“I have a feeling that there is more in this than 
appears on the surface,” said Geoffrey, musingly. 
“From what you have said, Lotus, and from what Ralph 
observed in New York, Clifford Weatherby is not the 
type of man to submit to correction tamely. It seems 
hardly possible that the ore in the Florida mines was 
completely destroyed when uninjured ore remains near 
the surface everywhere else. I can’t help thinking that 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



459 



Weatherby has some plan up his sleeve. What if he 
has saved a large quantity of ore and intends to wait 
until the ore in Antarctica is consumed before putting 
it on the market?” 

“What good would that do him?” Lotus asked. 

“Don’t you see that your uncle is crazy for power?” 
explained Geoffrey. “With sole control of the last rem- 
nant of ore in his hands, he could sate his appetite for 
power to the limit.” 

T HIS conversation took place one day on the balcony 
where the four friends always gathered for an 
hour’s relaxation after luncheon. The Doctor, who had 
taken no part in the discussion up to this point, came 
out of a reverie and brought down his clenched fist on 
the arm of his chair with such unusual violence that 
the others started. 

“Ah! The fools! The blind fools!” he exclaimed. 
“They have strangled the spirit of Science and now, in 
their travail, they cry out for help which is not forth- 
coming! There is iron enough to supply the world 
for a thousand centuries at our very threshold, and we 
cannot reach it. Who knows! Perhaps if science 
had been allowed to continue her progress unfettered 
in the past, she might be able to provide the means 
whereby this mine of untold wealth could be tapped?” 
“Iron for a thousand centuries?” cried Ralph. “Why 
Doctor, what can you mean? Where is this mine of 
wealth?” 

“Is it possible that you do not know of the Dark 
Star?” demanded the Japanese. 

“The Dark Star?” repeated Ralph. “Never heard 
of it.” 

The others were equally mystified. 

“Three persons of more than average education and 
intelligence,” exclaimed the Doctor, “in the Age of 
Social Enlightenment, who have never heard of the 
greatest astronomical event in the history of mankind ! 
Know, my friends, that on the eighteenth day of Sol in 
the year 2123, the Earth acquired a new satellite, A 
dark sphere, rushing through space, came within 
the range of the earth’s gravitational attraction. 
Snatched from its orbit by the pull of the superior 
body, this Dark Star has continued to circle around us 
ever since and will continue to do so through all 
Eternity — unless ” 

“Unless what, Doctor?” asked Ralph, as the speaker 
paused. 

“Unless the All Wise has decreed another fate for 
it!” 

“Explain! Explain!” cried three voices in chorus. 
“You must understand,” said the Doctor, “that this 
Dark Star is a spherical mass about fifty miles in 
diameter, which is believed to be the remnant or nu- 
cleus of some planet belonging to a solar system im- 
mensely distant from our own. We can only guess at 
the nature of the cataclysm which caused the disrup- 
tion of the original planet. Possibly it was a collision 
with another body, or more likely, internal strains due 
to cooling combined with a tidal effect caused by proxi- 
mity to another sphere. 

“Whatever may have been the cause, the heavy 
central nucleus was hurled out of its parent system into 
open space. All this occurred thousands or even mil- 
lions of years ago. The latter estimate is the more 
probable since the disruption must have been accom- 
panied by a great display of light which would have 
been visible from the earth. In other words, had the 
event taken place in historical times, we should have 
noted the appearance of a ‘temporary star’ or Nova.” 
“Have there not been many such Novse, Doctor?” 
Geoffrey interrogated. “Why may not the Dark Star 
be the remains of one of these?” 



“It is a possibility, of course,” replied the Japanese, 
“but there is evidence, chiefly spectroscopic, which 
throws doubt upon the theory. However that may be, 
the journey of the Dark Star through space ended with 
its capture by our earth. The event was accompanied 
by violent storms, tidal waves and earthquakes; the 
protests of Mother Earth at being forced to adopt the 
child of another parent. Even in those days, Science 
had fallen so low that few people made any attempt to 
trace the source of these catastrophes. The Dark Star 
became the sister of our Moon ; the daughter of a planet 
bearing upon her bosom nearly two billion human 
beings, yet of all those teeming myriads, only one man 
was aware of what had taken place.” 

“But surely, Doctor, people would have seen the 
Star,” interposed Lotus. “You speak of the Dark Star 
as a sister to the Moon, but we do not see two moons 
today.” 

“You forget,” smiled Ralph. “Dr. Umetaro told us 
that the Dark Star is only fifty miles in diameter. The 
Moon is over two thousand.” 

“Your explanation, while plausible, is not the cor- 
rect one, Mr. Morton,” stated the Doctor, “as you will 
realize when I have told you the elements of the Dark 
Star’s orbit. As I have mentioned, the Star is about 
fifty miles in diameter. It follows an almost circular 
path and its mean distance from the surface of the 
earth is just over four thousand miles. Obeying the 
universal law of gravitation, it completes a revolution 
in approximately four hours. It travels, therefore, at a 
speed of fourteen miles per minute or about four 
hundred yards per second.” 

“Forgive me for interrupting you, Doctor,” cut in 
Geoffrey, who had been scribbling on his tablets, “but 
according to Kepler’s law, a satellite having a period of 
four hours would be eight thousand miles from the 
earth, not four thousand.” 

“You forget that so far as the effect of gravitation 
is concerned, the earth acts as though its entire mass 
were concentrated at its centre. The Dark Star is 
eight thousand miles from the centre of the earth and 
therefore four thousand from the surface.” 

“Sorry, Doctor!” apologized Geoffrey. “I ought to 
have known that. You were about to tell us why the 
Dark Star is not generally seen.” 

“First let me point out that its invisibility is not 
due to its small size. On account of its proximity, the 
Dark Star, when in the zenith, has an appai’ent area 
two and a half times as great as the moon, but, also, on 
account of its nearness, it appears only half the area 
of the moon when at the horizon. The reason for this 
will be obvious if you think that when the star is 
overhead we are looking radially across its orbit, a 
distance of four thousand miles, but when it is near 
the horizon, we look along the hypotenuse of a 
triangle of which the shorter leg is four thousand miles 
and the longer leg eight thousand miles. Is that clear?” 

HE others nodded and the Doctor continued. 

“We see then, that the size of the Star would 
command immediate attention if it possessed the lustre 
of the moon. But this is not the case. The Star is 
actually dark. Its surface possesses some peculiar 
quality so that, instead of reflecting the sun’s rays, it 
absorbs them like a piece of black ferrovel. Therefore 
it is invisible.” 

“Such a body as you describe would be invisible in 
one sense,” commented the practical Geoffrey, “but in 
another sense it would be very visible indeed. It’s a 
matter of background. The Dark Star would be seen 
against the background of the sky, just as the black 
embroidery on the tunic Lotus is wearing, stands out 
against the background of blue ferrovel.” 




460 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Quite so!” agreed the Doctor, nodding. “That is 
exactly the way the Dark Star is visible in the 
heavens.” 

“Well, but Doctor,” protested Geoffrey, “surely you 
don’t mean to say that there has been a black hole in 
the sky, three times the area of the moon, _ for nearly 
a hundred years, and that during that time "no one has 
seen it!” 

“Yet that is just what I do mean,” replied the 
Japanese, calmly. 

“I know!” cried Lotus, excitedly. “The Dark Star 
is never above the horizon in the daytime. That’s why 
we don’t see a black hole in the blue sky !” 

“Come, come, Lotus San!” cried the Doctor, his black 
eyes sparkling with fun. “That bit of logic is hardly 
worthy of you. Have I not told you that the Dark 
Star’s period of revolution is four hours? Think for 
a minute. If the moon were dark, should we know of 
its existence? When the moon is ‘new’ and turns its 
dark side towards the earth, is it visible in the day- 
time ? Remember that the blue dome we call the sky is 
an illusion due to the scattering of the sun’s rays as 
they pass through our atmosphere. In order for a 
body to appear as a black hole in the blue sky, it must 
be in our atmosphere, not outside it.” 

It was Geoffrey again whose keenly analytical mind 
picked out the critical point in the Doctor’s disserta- 
tion. 

“I take it that the Dark Star is visible at night in so 
far as it hides the constellations over which its passes,” 
he observed. 

“You are right, Mr. Von Elmar,” replied the Doctor, 
“only it is hardly accurate to speak of the Dark Star 
hiding whole constellations. An occasional star here 
and there amongst those which are visible with the 
naked eye, is occulted or eclipsed by the passage of our 
little satellite. The world, having lost all interest in 
astronomy as a science, looks up to the starry heavens 
and loves them for their beauty and emotional appeal, 
but who would notice the periodical absence of one or 
two stars amongst so many hundreds? Only the scant 
dozen astronomers who are on the rolls of the Rebels, 
have gazed through their telescopes and seen the Dark 
Star in its entirety. It happens also, that the orbit of 
the Star is almost exactly parallel to the axis of the 
earth, so that a large part of its path is over the north 
and south Polar regions, which reduces considerably its 
chance of being noticed.” 

Ralph, his imagination and love of the romantic past 
stirred by the Doctor’s description, harked back to 
something that the Japanese had said. 

“And you say that out of all mankind, just one saw 
the advent of our new satellite?” he wondered. 

“The word I used was ‘aware,’ not ‘saw.’ I think,” 
corrected the other. “The story of how that humble 
servant of science watched the coming of the Dark 
Star is one of the little romances which brighten the 
tedium of our work. Deep down in a cellar, where, for 
fear of the criticisms of his neighbors, he had built a 
little workshop, William Blake was absorbed in study- 
ing the magnetic properties of certain alloys of iron 
and chromium. He had constructed a magnetized 
needle upon a delicate pivot, similar to the compasses 
which were used on ships many years ago. The point 
of the needle hung above a finely divided scale, above 
which was a microscope for the purpose of observing the 
slightest movement of the needle due to the proximity 
of the metal under test. 

“Blake had adjusted the scale so that the needle 
pointed exactly at zero. Just then, his companion, who 
shared his ambitions of course, called him to 
luncheon. An hour later he returned to his workshop 
and applied his eye to the microscope. He was some- 



what surprised to find that the needle had moved away 
from the zero point. 

“Supposing that he had made an error, Blake read- 
justed the scale and turned his attention to preparing a 
sample of the test metal. When it was ready, he looked 
through the microscope again before beginning the ex- 
periment. To his great astonishment, the needle had 
moved off the zero point once more. After that the 
chromium alloy was forgotten. For hours Blake sat, 
with his eye at the microscope, watching the slow 
movement of the needle. That infinitely slow, creeping 
movement was the Dark Star’s handwriting; the mes- 
sage of its advent into the sphere of earthly attraction. 

“Blake had no idea of the cause of the phenomenon 
he had discovered. Indeed, it was several years be- 
fore the true explanation was found. Several Rebel 
scientists, to whom Blake confided his discovery, com- 
bined to watch the movement of the compass needle. 
They noted that the needle swung in one direction for 
sixty-one minutes, then slowly returned to normal in 
sixty-one minutes more. The succeeding two hours 
was marked by a similar deflection in the opposite di- 
rection. Meanwhile an astronomer in the Andes had 
noted the presence of our new satellite. The mysterious 
excursions of the compass needle were immediately ex- 
plained. It was being attracted by the Dark Star as 
that body swung around in its new orbit.” 

“Doctor, I’m very ignorant of scientific matters,” 
Lotus said, “but I thought that the compass needle was 
only deflected by iron.” 

“Did I not tell you, Lotus San, that a mine of 
wealth lay at our threshold if we could but reach it? 
The Dark Star is the central nucleus of a shattered 
planet. It is a globe of solid iron fifty miles in 
diameter. Sixty-five thousand cubic miles of iron, 
weighing in the neighborhood of two million billion 
tons, poised in the heavens no further away than the 
distance from Florida to Vancouver. Was I wrong 
w'hen I said that there was iron enough to feed our 
ferroverter for a thousand centuries lying on our very 
doorstep?” 

There was a long silence when Dr. Umetaro con- 
cluded his explanation; not the respectful silence of an 
audience at the end of a lecture, but the tense, stifled 
pause which follows a tremendous and unexpected ex- 
plosion. The conception of that globe of iron pursuing 
its unchanging course around the earth was too 
astounding to be grasped in a moment. Iron was the 
backbone of civilization in the Age of Social Enlight- 
enment. A strange disease had sapped the life of that 
backbone, leaving civilization supine and helpless. 
There, in space at the threshold of the world, as the 
Doctor had said, was a new backbone, all ready for 
use and yet unreachable. 

G EOFFREY and Lotus broke silence simultaneously. 

The narrow space which separated the earth from 
her new satellite must be bridged. The Dark Star must 
be reached by space fliers, and colonies established upon 
its surface to mine this boundless wealth. The Rebels 
must drop their attempts to cure the disease which was 
destroying the terrestrial mines and concentrate upon 
the task of designing the fliers which would open up 
this new source of supply. 

These and a dozen other impracticable suggestions 
came crowding one another in breathless excitement 
from Lotus and Geoffrey. Dr. Umetaro waited until 
they had finished, smiling tolerantly, with the expres- 
sion of one who listens to the babbling of children. 

“Is that all, my friends?” he asked, quizzically. 
“Then I fear that I must crush your glowing hopes to 
earth. The Dark Star is as inaccessible to us as though 
it were still reposing in the womb of its parent planet, 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



461 



billions of miles away. Let us admit that we can in- 
vent and build the necessary space fliers, of which I am 
very doubtful. How do you propose to establish colo- 
nies and carry on mining operations upon the surface 
of a body where gravity is less than a millionth as 
great as upon the earth? Place the average man upon 
out tiny satellite and he would weigh about one-fiftieth 
of a grain. Even you, Mr. Von Elmar, would have 
difficulty in maintaining your footing and handling 
a Vrilol Drill with a body weighing less than one of 
Lotus San’s hairs! 

“Another thing,” continued the Doctor. “The Dark 
Star possesses no atmosphere. I will forestall your pro- 
test that it would be an easy matter to make our own 
air or carry it with us, by reminding you that the 
earth’s atmosphere has a secondary function almost as 
important as that of maintaining oxygen in the blood. 
It is a shield and buttress against the artillery of 
heaven. But for the kindly protection of our com- 
paratively dense atmosphere, few if any of us -would 
live out our days, for we should succumb to the bom- 
bardment of myriads of meteorites which are now con- 
sumed by the friction of the air and become dust, long 
before they can reach our devoted heads ! 

“Upon the Dark Star, however, we should have no 
such protection and even if all other difficulties were 
overcome, the settlements you propose would neces- 
sarily be attended by enormous loss of life. Mining iron 
on the Dark Star would be like cultivating a piece of 
land while a hundred machine guns such as we read of 
in the last great war, sprayed a hail of death across 
the fields! Am I not right, Mr. Morton?” concluded the 
Doctor, turning to Ralph. 

It was not until then that the others realized that 
Ralph had taken no part whatever in the burst of 
excited comment which had greeted Dr. Umetaro’s 
account of the Dark Star. In fact, he seemed to have 
been paying little or no attention to the conversation. 
He lay back in his chair, idly fingering the fringe of 
his tunic, as though the discussion were something in 
which he had not the remotest interest. 

In spite of the vacancy of Ralph’s expression, 
Geoffrey seemed to sense a keen alertness in the other’s 
eyes, as if his attention, instead of being given to the 
subject in hand, were concentrated upon something of 
which the rest were not aware. His reply to the 
Doctor’s query confirmed Geoffrey in his impression. 

“Yes, certainly, Doctor!” Ralph exclaimed. “I quite 
agree with you. It is time we returned to the work- 
shop.” 

“Why, Ralph!” cried Lotus, in mock indignation. “I 
don’t believe you have heard a word of what we have 
been talking about!” 

“I’m afraid I have been thinking about something 
else, my Flower,” rejoined Ralph, rising and allowing 
his hand to linger tenderly on the golden head. “Come, 
let us get to work.” 

CHAPTER VIII 

Clifford Weatherby Shows His Teeth 

G EOFFREY was not surprised when, a little while 
after the conversation which had been recounted, 
Ralph found an excuse to call him into the study 
and, having closed the door, motioned him to be seated. 

“You must have thought me very discourteous, Geoff,” 
he said, “to be day-dreaming while the Doctor was giv- 
ing his little lecture on the Dark Star. The fact is that 
I got to thinking about Clifford Weatherby, and your 
remark that he was not the type of a man to submit 
to punishment tamely. A man like Weatherby would 
stop at nothing to accomplish his aims. It is even pos- 



sible that he knows a lot more about the Rebels than 
we imagine. He would conceal any knowledge he may 
possess because it is his nature to be secretive, and also 
because he would foresee the likelihood of using the 
accumulated learning of the Rebels to aid him in his 
bid for power.” 

Geoffrey looked at his friend in unconcealed doubt. 

“I can hardly see your reasoning, Ralph,” he said. 
“Weatherby is just one man, after all; a man who is 
at present in banishment and under the displeasure of 
the Three. What can he hope to do?” 

“We can’t know what assistance he may have, 
Geoff,” Ralph exclaimed, beginning to pace the floor. 
“It takes more than two centuries to change the nature 
of the human race. There will be throw-backs, as 
Lotus calls them, for many more generations ; men and 
women whose minds and methods of thinking will hark 
back to past ages. A band of such Atavars, under the 
leadership of an unscrupulous man like Weatherby, 
might do untold harm before they could be got under 
control. Who knows but what he is aware of even our 
small activities and is planning to destroy us at this 
very moment?” 

“Really, old fellow, I think that you’re allowing your 
imagination to run away with you?” Geoffrey laughed, 
“This valley is the most isolated spot on the North 
American continent. Why, we’ve never seen a single 
human being except Lotus, in all the years we have 
been here.” 

“If that is true, Geoffrey,” said his friend, slowly, 
“will you tell me why I watched a man signalling by 
means of a mirror, during the w r hole time we were 
sitting on the balcony?” 

“A man! Where?” exclaimed Geoffrey, starting to 
his feet. 

“At the top of the cliffs on the opposite side of the 
valley,” replied his friend, calmly. 

Geoffrey was dumfounded. He and Ralph had, of 
course, realized that by engaging in scientific research 
■work they were laying themselves open to severe cen- 
sure not alone by the Three, who, after all, were only 
the chosen representatives of the people, but by the 
whole human race. Geoffrey understood this perfectly, 
but he felt so secure in the isolation of the aerial work- 
shop that it never entered his mind that anyone would 
visit them with evil intentions. 

“Are you quite sure, Ralph?” he asked, at last. 
“Might not the signals you saw have been sunlight re- 
flected from a quartz crystal or a piece of mica?” 

“I thought of that explanation,” replied his friend, 
“but I am quite confident that the flashes were caused 
by human agency. It is true that they did not conform 
to any code with which I am familiar, but they were 
unquestionably signals of some sort.” 

“But to whom would he be signalling?” 

“Presumably to some person on the mountain side 
above us. Geoffrey, I tell you that I have a feeling 
which amounts almost to certainty, that Clifford Weath- 
erby knows of our work. Don’t ask me what makes me 
so sure of this, for I can’t tell you.” 

Geoffrey spoke hesitatingly with his eyes turned 
away : 

“Could — could it possibly be ” 

“Be careful, Geoff!” snapped Ralph, his eyes flashing 
dangerously. “Do not say anything you may be sorry, 
for.” 

“Beg pardon, old man,” rejoined Geoffrey, frankly, 
“I spoke without thinking. But what about the Doctor. 
After all, we only have his word for this story about 
the Rebels. What if he is a spy of Weatherby’s ! I hate 
to think such a thing is possible, but we must consider 
every possibility.” 

“You can bar Dr. Umetaro,” said Ralph confidently. 



462 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“If he were an agent of Weatherby’s, he would have let 
me drown when he saw me in the river and then dealt 
with you at his leisure. Instead of which, he saved my 
life. No, I can swear the Doctor is as true as ferrolith.” 

“Then what other suggestion can you make?” asked 
Geoffrey. 

“None,” answered Ralph. “But I can tell you one 
thing, Geoff. I’m going over to the other side of the 
valley tonight and find out what caused those signals.” 

“Let me go, Ralph,” begged the other. “I’m a bigger 
man than you, and if there is going to be any trouble, 
I can probably take care of it all right. In any case, 
you are far more important to this enterprise than I. 
If I don’t come back, you three can skip out and find 
another place to work.” 

“You could do no good by going,” his friend said with 
finality. “You didn’t see the flashes and it’s too dark 
for me to point out the place. Even if I could, you 
would never get up the cliffs. You’re a Hercules of 
strength, Geoff, but you are about as much use on a bit 
of rock climbing as an elephant, if you’ll forgive my 
saying so!” 

“Then let me come with you,” Geoffrey insisted. 
“With a rope ” 

“I’ll go by myself!” Ralph stated emphatically. “I 
know those cliffs by heart. I can get up there without 
making a sound and come back without being seen.” 

Geoffrey knew his friend too well to attempt any 
further persuasion, but it was with a heavy heart that 
he saw his friend drop over the edge of the balcony 
at midnight and disappear in the gloom. Lotus and the 
Doctor were sleeping and knew nothing of the pro- 
posed expedition. 

“Don’t worry, old man,” were Ralph’s last words. 
“I shall come back all right. If I don’t ” 

The rest of his thought was unspoken, but Geoffrey 
understood and accepted the trust. 

In half an hour Ralph set foot on the ice. The 
sheer cliffs below the workshop had presented no more 
difficulty in the darkness than they would have done 
in broad day. Every familiar support and hold fell into 
place beneath his feet and hands, as though he were an 
'automaton. 

The crossing of the glacier was not so simple. He 
knew, of course, the general location of the crevasses 
and had no particular wish to renew his acquaintance 
with the icy depths which had so nearly proved his 
death two weeks before. Slowly and cautiously he felt 
his way, probing every step ahead with his ice-axe. 
Once, in crossing a snow-bridge, a leg plunged through 
to the hip, but he saved himself by falling forward and 
crawling across on his face. 

A T LAST, with a sigh of relief, he saw the cliffs of 
. the farther side loom up through the blackness 
and in a few moments his hands touched rock. 

A brief inspection told him that he had steered his 
course well. He stood at the bottom of a narrow ridge 
which projected from the otherwise sheer face. By 
daylight he might have made his way up the cliffs at 
any one of a dozen places, but in the darkness his only 
hope was to follow the ridge. It was tremendously 
steep, but it constituted a guiding line from which he 
could hardly deviate, like the thread by which Theseus 
made his escape from the den of the -Minotaur. 

Ralph slipped off the heavily nailed sandals in which 
he had made the crossing of the slippery ice and started 
up the rock in his naked feet. This he could do with 
confidence and safety, for continual contact with the 
mountains had hardened the soles to a degree which was 
unusual, even in those days when men and women of all 
ages went barefoot as much as conditions would permit. 
His progress up the ridge was almost as rapid as the 



descent of the cliff below the workshop. He could not 
possibly mistake his route, with the edge of the ridge 
to guide him. Once or twice the rocks shot up vertically 
for a hundred feet, but always there were good holds by 
which he overcame the difficulty. 

At last he felt the angle decreasing and in an hour 
from the time he had left the glacier, he stood on the 
rim of the cliff, two thousand feet above it. 

What next? For a moment the thought flashed 
through his mind that the most sensible thing to do was 
to return the way he had come and go to bed! Per- 
haps Geoffrey was right and the idea of some malignant 
personality crouching on the cliffs was just a figment of 
the imagination. After all, what justification had he 
for believing anything of the sort? A flickering light 
which might be signals but was probably the reflection 
of the sun on the facets of a rock crystal. He felt a 
natural antagonism to Clifford Weatherby, who might, 
for all his strange views, be a very estimable old man. 
On these impressions, hazy and indefinite at the best, his 
mind had built up a structure which would probably 
prove to be utterly without foundation. Mankind had 
not yet reached the stage of universal brotherly love 
which the religionists of the twentieth century had 
anticipated, but the whole idea of personal violence, as 
a means of redressing wrongs, had become foreign to 
man’s thoughts with the coming of the Age of Social 
Enlightenment. 

It was little wonder that Ralph almost turned back 
from what, he w 7 as convinced, would prove a wild goose 
chase ! 

In spite of all these very rational arguments, turning 
back was one thing Ralph had no intention of doing. 
He would return to the workshop wffien he had found the 
cause of those flashes — not before. 

T HAT afternoon he had carefully noted the spot at 
which the supposed signals originated, so now he 
turned to the right and began to work his way eastward 
along the rim of the cliffs. A dense forest of spruce 
covered the slopes above him, the trees extending to the 
extreme edge. The ground was carpeted with soft moss, 
on which his bare feet made no sound. Here and there, 
tiny streams from the melting snow-fields far above, 
trickled through the moss and cascaded into space. 

As he crept with infinite caution from tree to tree, 
his lips curled into a smile of self-ridicule at the 
thought that he was playing a child’s game ; was prac- 
ticing the long forgotten art of scouting, of stealing un- 
heard upon an unsuspecting enemy. 

He had progressed in this way a distance of about a 
mile when his outstretched hand came into contact with 
cold metal! The shock of finding that his game was 
likely to prove reality was so sudden that he almost 
gave voice to an exclamation. Fortunately he was able 
to control the impulse. Dropping to his knees, he be- 
gan to explore by the sense of touch, the object he had 
encountered. 

It was a tapering metal tube, five feet long and vary- 
ing from one to six inches in diameter. The ends were 
closed by curved, polished discs and the whole thing 
was mounted on a light metal tripod. A telescope! 
Instantly he realized the cause of the signals. Some- 
one had been "watching the workshop through this tele- 
scope. The glitter of the sunlight upon the object glass, 
which might have escaped notice had it been motion- 
less, was broken up into irregular flashes by the in- 
voluntary tremor of the watcher’s head; a vibration 
which was communicated to the eyepiece. 

The signals were explained, but what of the motive? 
In vain Ralph puzzled his brain. Certainly the secret 
spy could not be an agent of the Board of Control. It 
was not the custom of the Three to spy upon the people. 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



463 



If Hector Shawn had reason to believe that there were 
men carrying on the forbidden practice of scientific re- 
search, he or one of the others would have come to them 
openly and have reasoned with them. If reasoning 
proved to be of no avail, punishment would be swift 
and sure, “for the good of the Race.” 

No, the only answer to the problem was Clifford 
Weatherby. He alone had anything to gain by secrecy. 

Ralph’s eyes had to some extent grown accustomed 
to the darkness. Beside the tripod he could make out 
the shape of what appeared to be a small square box, 
resting on the ground. Closer inspection revealed the 
dials and Radiferr rods of a portable radio transmitter. 
The spy was not alone, then ! He was in communication 
with some person at a distance, someone to whom he 
sent reports of what he observed. 

Ralph stretched out his hand to submit the radio 
transmitter to a closer examination, but he never 
reached it. His keen ears detected a movement behind 
him. Before he could straighten up, a band of steel 
seemed to encircle his neck and another band was flung 
around his body, binding his arms to his sides. 

Slowly but surely his unseen assailant was choking 
the breath from his lungs, and at the same time, drag- 
ging him towards the rim. Again and again he flung 
every ounce of the strength of his splendid muscles 
into the effort to break the grip of those crushing 
bands. His bare feet clutched and writhed in the fran- 
tic hope of finding some grip in the yielding moss. . 

Now his horror-stricken eyes could look down into 
the gulf. The moon, in its last quarter, was beginning 
to rise above the cliffs. By its faint light he could see 
the silver ribbon of the glacier, thousands of feet below. 
So far away it seemed and yet he knew that before his 
heart could beat a score of times, he would be lying on 
that silver ribbon crushed into a nauseating, shapeless 
mass. 

He was aware of a low humming sound. It was like 
a Vrilol motor, but he knew, of course, that it was the 
roar of the blood in his ears. The crushing pressure 
of the mighty arms slackened, the resistless urge 
towards the abyss ceased, but he no longer possessed 
either the strength or the will to make another bid for 
freedom. This was the end. A moment more and he 
would be snatched up and flung headlong into space. 

Suddenly, so suddenly that in falling he almost rolled 
over the edge of the cliffs, Ralph was released. He 
turned to see a squat, dark form bounding like an 
antelope up the slope. In a moment it had disappeared. 
Then, from the same direction, came a shrill cry of fear, 
followed by a stifled groan of agony and a sound as 
of some heavy body crashing through the underbrush. 
Before Ralph could gather up his shaken nerves or 
formulate any plan to cope with this new enemy, a tall 
figure came striding through the trees and Geoffrey 
Von Elmar stood before him. His mighty arms were 
raised above his head. In one hand he held the ankle, 
in the other, the hair of a struggling negro, who beat 
upon Geoffrey’s head and face with his clenched fists. 

“Here’s your little playmate, Ralph,” said Geoffrey, 
paying no more attention to the rain of blows than if 
they had been snowflakes: “Shall I throw him over?” 

“Geoff!” stammered Ralph. “What are you doing 
here? How did you find me?” 

“Followed you in the plane,” his friend replied. “It’s 
a wonder you didn’t hear the motor. Got an awful shock 
when you stuck your leg into the crevasse. I thought 
you were a goner! Keep still, you beast!” he growled 
to the negro, shaking him as a Great Dane might shake 
a toy spaniel. 

“You were just in time, Geoff,” said Ralph. “An- 
other ten seconds and I shouldn’t have been here. But 
how could you follow me in the darkness?” 



“Remember that infra-red ray outfit we rigged up last 
year? I fixed that in the floor of the plane this evening. 
It was as good as a searchlight. I could watch you all 
the time while the rays would, of course, be invisible to 
anyone not having the proper viewing screen. Sorry I 
didn’t get here sooner, but I couldn’t find a landing 
place. Now then, I’ll get rid of this brute and we’ll go 
home.” The giant took a step towards the edge of the 
cliff, while the negro burst out into shrieks and prayers 
for mercy. 

“Stop, Geoff!” interposed Ralph. “This fellow may 
be useful. If you throw him over the cliff, we shall be 
as much in the dark as ever. Bring him to the work- 
shop and we’ll question him. Don’t forget, he’s only 
a tool in the hands of others.” 

“All right, Ralph. Have it your own way, though I 
hate to forego the pleasure of seeing this insect turn- 
ing head over heels in the air.” And Geoffrey, who 
would not have dreamed of treading upon an ant in- 
tentionally, made a motion with his arms which brought 
forth a new burst of screams from the helpless negro. 

T HEY made their way to the plane, Ralph leading 
the way with a torch, there being no longer any 
need for concealment. They tied the negro hand and 
foot with a fibroferr climbing rope and dumped him un- 
ceremoniously into the back seat. 

Geoffrey started the motor and they soared out over 
the glacier. Dropping straight down to the foot of the 
ridge, they retrieved Ralph’s sandals and tunic. Five 
minutes later the plane dropped softly into its cradle 
at the workshop. 

“One sound from you, you pup, and I’ll drop you 
over the balcony!” threatened Geoffrey as he lifted the 
bound figure out of the back seat. “There’s no use of 
alarming the others, Ralph,” he explained. “We’ll take 
this specimen into the laboratory and analyze it at our 
leisure.” 

Ralph tiptoed up to the roof. Lotus and the Doctor 
lay peacefully on their sleeping couches, locked in the 
profound sleep of early dawn and all unconscious of the 
exciting events which had transpired. When Ralph re- 
turned to the Laboratory, Geoffrey had turned on the 
light in the ferrolith wndls and had released their pris- 
oner, who sat hunched up in a chair, glowering at his 
captors. 

“You see what you can get out of him, Ralph,” sug- 
gested Geoffrey. “If he doesn’t see fit to answer politely, 
there’s always the balcony. I’ll tell you ! What do you 
say if I drop him over and you follow him down in the 
plane? You can catch him before he hits the bottom. 
Maybe the sensation of a thousand foot fall will open 
his ugly mouth for him.” 

Ralph, who could hardly suppress a smile at Geof- 
frey’s assumed role, turned to the negro. 

“Now then, my friend, let us hear what you have to 
say for yourself,” he said. 

There was no reply. The negro did not even deign to 
look at the speaker, but kept his eyes fixed upon 
Geoffrey in an unwavering stare. 

“You won’t gain anything by sulking,” Ralph went 
on, firmly. “Tell us who you are and what you mean by 
spying on us.” 

Still there was no reply and the negro continued to 
regard Geoffrey unflinchingly. 

“It looks as if he can’t or won’t talk, Geoff. What 
shall we do?” 

To his surprise, Geoffrey did not answer. When 
Ralph looked around, he was amazed to see his friend 
sitting bolt upright in his chair, his eyes closed and his 
face as expressionless as a statue. 

“Here, Geoff!” exclaimed Ralph in alarm. “What’s 
the matter, old man?” 



464 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



The negro broke his silence for the first time. 

“I am afraid your friend is slightly indisposed after 
his strenuous exertions,” he said, in smooth, cultivated 
accents. 

Ralph flashed an inquiring glance at the speaker. 
The negro’s black eyes were fixed upon him in the same 
unblinking stare with which he had been regarding 
Geoffrey. There was something repellant in the chill 
malignity of that gaze which caused a shiver of disgust 
and fear to traverse Ralph’s spine. He tried to turn 
his own eyes away and found, to his horror, that he 
was powerless to do so. He tried to speak and could 
not so much as open his lips. The paralysis which 
rendered his body helpless was spreading to his brain. 
He felt his senses leaving him, all except the sense of 
sight, which was bound up in those unnatural eyes with 
their ghastly white rims. Just as consciousness was de- 
parting, he heard a voice. 

“Listen to me, both of you, and learn who and what 
I am. I, Kana, of the Rhodesian Division, have mas- 
tered your puny minds as easily as that mountain of 
muscle mastered my body. You wonder why I watched 
you, though how you discovered that I did so I cannot 
guess. You wish to know who it is I serve and what 
I hope to gain by spying upon you. All these things 
you shall learn, for you will not live to transmit your 
knowledge to any other. 

“Learn then, that I serve Clifford Weatherby, he 
whom we, his willing servants, call The Master. 
When the iron disease first threatened destruction of 
the mines, one of us discovered an antidote. We can- 
not restore the iron which has been destroyed, but we 
stopped the ravages of the disease in the Master’s 
mines at the very outset. 

“The Board of Control is removing all the un- 
tainted ore to the icefields in the south, little thinking 
that in every load of ore which the planes carry to the 
Antarctic, goes a piece of diseased ore, placed there by 
the Master’s secret agents. In a year the hoarded ore 
will turn to corruption on the ice. Then the Master, 
with sole ownership of every ton of iron existing in the 
world, will dispose of the Three and rule in their place. 
Emperor of the Earth by the supreme right of wealth. 

“The Master has .suspected you two of heresy ever 
since you disappeared from your homes ten years ago. 
I filled the place of Secretary to John Ballantyne and 
gained his confidence. This was before the unexpected 
advent of the iron disease, which brought success within 
our grasp. After the Ironmasters’ Convention and the 
Master’s banishment by the Three, we knew that 
nothing could stand in the way of our plans save only 
the possibility of some meddler and heretic finding a 
means of reconverting the gold sulphide into iron. 

“The Master set me, Kana, the task of seeking you 
out, of sapping your knowledge, and then, of destroying 
you utterly. You asked what I hoped to gain by spying 
upon you from the cliffs. Does it surprise you to 
learn that I know all about your worthless experi- 
ments, all about your wild dreams of mining the Dark 
Star? Fools! Kana was born without hearing. From 
earliest childhood I have studied the lips until now I 
can read them as easily as I can read a printed page. 
Day by day I have watched your conferences on the 
balcony, transmitting everything of importance to the 
Master. 

“And now I will make an end of you and your petty 
schemes !” 

He turned to the well-stocked shelves of the Labora- 
tory and selected therefrom a bottle. Filling two 
glasses with water he added a few drops of liquid 
from the bottle to each. Then he drew a small table 
between the motionless figures of the two men and 
placed the glasses within their reach. 



“I am of a sensitive disposition and dislike to watch 
suffering,” he said, his lips drawn up in a snarl of 
hate. “I am leaving you, taking the excellent plane in 
which you brought me here. It is now past eleven. 
When the clock above the door strikes the half hour, 
you will awake and drink to the health of the Master 
in this excellent strychnine with which you have so 
kindly provided me. I have chosen this particular 
drug because it will give you the keenest enjoyment 
during its operation. 

“Now may I thank you for your kind hospitality 
and wish you a most pleasant journey to wherever you 
may be going!” 

The grinning negro turned upon his heel. His hand 
was outstretched to open the door beneath the fatal 
timepiece, when the door swung open noiselessly. 

Framed in the opening stood the Japanese scientist. 

Kana spoke no word, gave no start or gesture which 
betrayed any sign of emotion. He simply stood and 
fixed the doctor with that baleful stare. The two young 
men, fully conscious but helpless to intervene, could 
only sit and watch the unfortunate Japanese succumb 
to the fatal influence. 

To Ralph’s amazement, Dr. Umetaro displayed no 
symptoms of hypnotic sleep. He stood in the doorway, 
looking at Kana with a benign smile, as though he 
were welcoming a dear friend, for whom he was slightly 
sorry. Then he began to advance into the room with 
slow steps. For every step that the Doctor advanced, 
Kana retreated a pace until he backed past the two 
seated figures and stood against the wall. 

Ralph could see that Kana’s face was utterly trans- 
formed. The glare of animal malignity had departed, 
leaving an expression of peace. The thick lips, no longer 
drawn back from the teeth in the cruel grin of a satyr, 
wore the natural smile of a contented child. 

The Doctor pushed a light couch to the wall where 
Kana stood motionless. 

“Lie down, my friend,” said the Japanese, in the 
tone of a mother soothing a fractious child. “Lie down 
and sleep.” 

Kana stretched his long arms with a gesture of 
weariness and extended himself upon the couch. His 
eyes closed and he relapsed into what was apparently 
a deep natural slumber. 

CHAPTER IX 
The Claverly Operation 

T HAT day, work was forgotten. The dramatic 
suddenness with which their idyllic peace had been 
broken, drove everything from their minds save 
the one thought of how they could cope with the prob- 
lem which confronted them— the problem of Clifford 
Weatherby’s enmity and its bearing on their hopes and 
ambitions. 

In a few moments after Kana had been transformed 
from a ravening beast into a sleeping child by the 
power of Dr. Umetaro’s will, the Japanese had aroused 
Ralph and Geoffrey from their condition of hypnotic 
paralysis. Released from the unholy spell wffiich bound 
him, Ralph’s first thought was of Lotus and he turned 
to behold her standing in the doorway. Her eyes, 
still dewy with sleep, mirrored in their violet depths 
the amazement and concern she felt at the strange 
scene. 

Explanations were in order. The four friends ad- 
journed to the balcony, leaving the negro wrapped in 
unconsciousness which would last unbroken until the 
Doctor awakened him. By tacit mutual agreement noth- 
ing was said with regard to the events of the night, 
until their breakfast of fruit and ghilna biscuits had 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



465 



been consumed. The dawn was flooding the valley 
with golden light. The wind fanned them with that in- 
describable freshness which conveys the impression 
that each new morning in the mountains has been 
especially created by the All Wise for the delectation 
of his children. An impertinent bird, a Whisky Jack 
or Canadian Jay, the feathered clown of the Canadian 
Rockies, hopped on the railing and ate crumbs from 
Lotus’ fingers. 

“Now, Ralph,” said the Doctor, when the meal was 
finished, “perhaps you will tell us the meaning of the 
tableau which I interrupted.” 

Dr. Umetaro used the given name for the first time 
and Ralph felt instinctively that the simple word meant 
much more, coming from the Doctor, than it would have 
implied from most people. Typical representative of 
a race whose progressiveness was shot through with 
the stately conservatism of the ancient samurai, Dr. 
Umetaro used the old-fashioned forms of address which 
the vast majority had discarded. It was not until 
friendship had been purified in the furnace of some 
great mutual trial that he felt justified in the use 
of the simpler names. 

It was with a consciousness of an added bond between 
them, therefore, that Ralph began his narrative, and 
it is certain that his story, like that of Othello, lost 





There , framed in the opening , stood the Japanese scientist. 




466 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



nothing from the sympathy and absorbed interest of 
his Desdemona. When Ralph ceased speaking, Geoffrey 
recounted his share in the night’s adventures. 

“Now, Doctor, it is your turn,” said Lotus. “By 
what miracle did you appear upon the scene just in 
time? I want to know — though I think I can guess!” 

“Yes, I think you can guess, Lotus San,” smiled the 
Doctor. “You understand, of course, that Kana, who 
is a negro, apparently from some part of Central 
Africa, is an adept at the use of hypnotism, an art 
which has been almost forgotten, except among certain 
races, from which all the advantages of civilization 
have not completely purged the ancient evil. 

“It chances that I too have studied this art, not 
that I might use it as Kana did, to work harm upon 
my brothers, but because it was the key to certain 
discoveries in the science of surgical anaesthesia. It 
may surprise you to know that hypnotism is not solely 
a matter of suggestion, as savants of the twentieth cen- 
tury believed. The superstitions of those past times 
had a basis in fact. It is indeed possible for a human 
being, by long years of devoted study, to learn to con- 
trol the actions of a weaker mind from a distance, but 
woe betide such an adept who attempts to use his 
learning to injure others! 

“This higher form of hypnosis being, as I have said, 
a mental process, it is impossible for one adept to 
practice it without the mind waves impinging upon 
the sensitive consciousness of any other adept in the 
vicinity. This being the case, when Kana began to 
concentrate his mental force upon you two young men, 
I was instantly awakened. At first I did not recognize 
the cause of my cerebral disturbance. It was not until 
I heard Kana’s voice raised in the words ‘Now I will 
make an end of you!’ that I realized your peril and 
hastened to your assistance.” 

“This makes twice that I owe my life to you, Doc- 
tor,” said Ralph, with emotion. “How can I ever repay 
you ?” 

“Or I?” Geoffrey interjected. “It turns my blood 
cold to think what would have happened if you had 
been unable to overcome Kana’s will.” 

“Such a contingency was impossible, my dear Geof- 
frey,” said the Doctor, confidently. “Whatever may be 
the case in the physical world, God always masters Evil 
in the mental world. This is not merely a pretty 
phrase; a platitude culled from some religious volume 
of the past. It is a cold, demonstratable scientific fact, 
though not stated in a very scientific fashion. It would 
be more correct to say that strength is good, weakness 
is evil.” 

“What did you mean by saying that you thought 
you could guess the cause of the Doctor’s awakening?” 
Ralph asked, turning to Lotus. Before the girl could 
reply, the Doctor interposed. 

“Is she not your chosen companion, my friend?” 
he asked softly. “If a mother awakens at the slightest 
movement of her baby, shall not a woman be aware when 
her chosen mate is in peril? In the interval between 
my awakening and the sound of Kana’s voice, I heard 
Lotus San tossing and moaning like a soul in pain.” 

T HE long silence which ensued was broken at last 
by Geoffrey. 

“Well — now that we’ve got this precious Kana, what 
are we going to do with him?” he demanded brusquely. 
“We can’t keep him unconscious — he’s got to have 
nourishment. We can’t keep him prisoner. We have 
no right to do so, and, besides, it wouldn’t be human. 
We can’t turn him over to the Three, for that would 
mean the end of our work. And we can’t turn him 
loose, for if we do, he’ll go back to that mad master 
of his and plot more deviltries.” 



“You have summed up the situation with brevity 
and precision, my dear Geoffrey,” commented the Doc- 
tor. “Has anyone any solution to suggest?” 

The two younger men shook their heads dubiously, 
but Lotus, who had been watching the Doctor’s face, 
exclaimed : 

“Dr. Umetaro, I’m sure you have a plan! I can tell 
it from your smile and I’m equally sure that it’s a 
good, kind plan.” 

“Yes, I have a plan, as your intuition has divined, 
Lotus San,” admitted the Doctor, laughing, “Why 
should we not perform the Claverly operation?” 

“But, Doctor, he will never consent!” protested Lotus, 
shaking her head. “We dare not perform it upon a 
normal person without his written consent and I am 
sure he would never give it.” 

“We will pass over the doubtful question of Kana’s 
normality,” replied the Doctor. “As to the impossibility 
of gaining his consent, I think I can promise to over- 
come his objections.” 

The others had listened to this conversation in un- 
comprehending wonder. 

“What on earth are you talking about?” Ralph burst 
out. “What is this Claverly operation, and how does 
Lotus know so much about it, anyway?” 

“Lotus San understands because she is a trained 
nurse,” replied the Doctor. 

“You — a trained nurse, my Flower?” cried Ralph. 

“I have been a nurse in the Jacksonville Hospital 
for Abnormals for several years, dear,” Lotus explained, 
“although how Dr. Umetaro knew of the fact is be- 
yond me.” 

“We surgeons know many things,” replied the Doctor 
cryptically. “As to the Claverly operation, it is an 
operation the technique of which was perfected by 
Dr. Samuel Claverly in the late years of the twentieth 
century. It is practiced occasionally upon persons of 
subnormal morality. Certain deeply seated portions 
of the brain are excised, resulting in a complete trans- 
formation of the mental attitude, without in any way 
affecting the intellect. It is a difficult and dangerous 
operation, and may be performed only with the written 
permission of the patient, as Lotus San has stated.” 

“I’ve heard something about the work at Jackson- 
ville,” Geoffrey said, “but I never knew anything in 
detail about the operations. Is it a fact that surgeons 
can open a man’s head and rearrange his brains to 
suit themselves?” 

“Not quite that!” replied the Doctor, laughing 
heartily. “The Claverly operation does not alter the 
character or intellect in any way. What it does is 
to change the direction or trend of the patient’s mental 
processes.” 

“That sounds a bit obscure,” Ralph commented. 

“It’s really quite simple,” the Doctor elucidated. 
“You understand, of course, that the body contains cer- 
tain tiny organs known as the ductless glands and that 
the function of some of these glands is to control the 
rate of growth of the body. Decrease the rate of flow 
from these glands and you produce dwarfs. Increase 
it and you produce giants. 

“Let us compare the ductless glands to the carburetor 
of the old style gasoline engines. This mechanism, 
very small in comparison with the motor with which it 
was associated, controlled the rate at which the gasoline 
flowed to the cylinders. If the engine were driven at 
high speed, a tiny valve automatically permitted more 
gasoline to flow. If the engine were idling, the valve 
was partially closed, thus shutting off the atomized 
and gasefied liquid. This gives you a rough notion of 
the function of the ductless glands. 

“Throughout the countless ages during which man 
has progressed from the ‘beast’ stage to his present 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 467 



state, the ductless glands have been the controlling 
factor which enabled the body to conform to the re- 
quirements of the environment. They were the hand 
upon the throttle which guided the growth of the human 
body to its destined form. The truth of this is demon- 
strated by the fact that surgical interference with 
these glands results in a corresponding change in the 
rate or direction of growth, producing monstrosities. 

A LL this was known a very long time ago, but it 
remained for Claverly to discover that there are 
groups of cells in the brain which are comparable in 
their functions to the ductless glands. These cells, in 
some mysterious way, which we have not been able 
to fathom, dictate the growth of the rest of the brain 
cells. One group seems to control what we call the in- 
tellect, others the memory, still others the trend or 
bias of thought. It is these last with which the Claverly 
operation is concerned. They are known collectively as 
the Claverly tissue. 

“You must bear in mind that the development of the 
Claverly tissue, as of all the cerebral control tissues 
and the ductless glands, is the direct result of environ- 
ment and evolution. Until the last few millennia, man 
was forced by his surroundings to be a combative 
animal, preying upon his fellow men, and upon the lower 
animals. The Claverly tissue gave the brain a bias or 
‘set’ which accorded with these surroundings. Co- 
operation, brotherly love, and all the other social virtues 
which are commonplace today, would have been of little 
value to the cave dwellers ten thousand years ago; in 
fact they would have been a decided detriment. 

“As the ages passed away and mankind gradually 
developed what we may call a moral sense, using the 
expression in its widest meaning, the Claverly tissue 
became modified. Men’s primal instincts remained un- 
changed but their resultant emotion was altered. To 
make a comparison, wolves shun the flames of a camp 
fire, but the domestic dog, blood-brother of the wolf, 
seeks the fire in order that he may curl himself up 
beside it and enjoy its grateful warmth. 

“Just so the modification of the Claverly tissue, itself 
the direct result of changed surroundings, has trans- 
formed destructive hatred to constructive energy, rage 
to enthusiasm, lust to love, malicious secrecy to the 
generous impulse which prompts us to conceal some 
pleasant surprise from a dear friend, that his enjoyment 
may thereby be enhanced. 

“We find, however, even at the present day, certain 
persons whom we call abnormals, in whom the Claverly 
tissue is overdeveloped. Such persons exhibit exactly 
the mental traits which one would anticipate in a cave- 
man. They are moral ‘throw-backs’. They show a re- 
turn in mentality to primeval stock, just as a man, 
with an excessively hairy body or overdeveloped canines, 
would show a similar return to first principles from a 
physical standpoint. 

“The triumph of the Claverly operation is in the 
fact that by its help we are enabled to overcome or 
reverse this abnormal condition. By cutting away a 
small portion of the Claverly tissue, the patient’s mind 
is given the requisite social attitude which will enable 
it to align itself with modern conditions, instead of 
being at war with all its fellow beings. 

“Kana is one of these mental throw-backs. The Clav- 
erly operation will transform him into a useful member 
of society.” 

The others had listened to Dr. Umetaro’s somewhat 
lengthy lecture with intense interest. Lotus was, of 
course, familiar with the subject, but it was all new 
to Ralph and Geoffrey. The latter propounded a 
question, 

“You speak of gaining Kana’s consent to the opera- 



tion, Doctor,” he said. “Do you propose to get his 
signature while he is under the hypnotic influence?” 

“While that would be possible, my dear Geoffrey,” 
replied the Doctor, “to do so would be exhibiting the 
very traits of unsocial deception which we are de- 
ploring in Kana. You see, while it would be Kana’s hand 
which signed the paper, it would be my mind which 
guided the hand. In other words it would be hypnotic 
forgery.” 

“Then I don’t understand how you will ever gain 
his consent,” said Geoffrey, “for it is obvious that Kana 
is entirely satisfied with himself as he is.” 

Nevertheless, he will sign the paper and sign 
willingly, even eagerly,” averred the Doctor. 

“Explain yourself!” cried Lotus with mock imperi- 
ousness. 

“I shall awaken Kana,” responded the Doctor, “and 
give him a free choice between submitting to the 
Claverly operation or being taken into the presence of 
the Three. It is true that the latter alternative will 
mean the destruction of all our hopes for saving the 
commercial structure of the world, but it will also 
mean the end of Clifford Weatherby’s dream of power. 
In his present state of mind it will be inconceivable to 
Kana, that the Master, as he calls Weatherby, can 
fail in the accomplishment of his ambitions. He will 
willingly submit to the operation therefore, although 
it will mean the end of his usefulness to Weatherby, 
because he knows that he, Kana, is only one cog in 
the machinery of Weatherby’s nefarious schemes, and 
that the removal of that one cog can have little or no 
effect upon the whole mechanism.” 

“You have a solution to everything, Doctor!” Ralph 
exclaimed, in unconcealed admiration. 

“Have I your permission to awaken Kana and offer 
him the choice I have indicated?” asked Dr. Umetaro. 

All three signified their unqualified approval. 

“Very well, then. Let us return to the study.” 

The negro was lying as they had left him. His 
head was pillowed upon one huge arm; his heavily 
muscled chest rose and fell with deep, even respiration ; 
his thick lips were slightly parted in a half smile. 

The Doctor stood above him, his slight, wiry physique 
contrasting strangely with the squat, massive bulk of 
the recumbent negro. 

“Listen, Kana!” said the Japanese in deep, intense 
tones. “At the word of command you will awaken. You 
will regain your senses, open your eyes, speak. You will 
again be your own master in every respect, save that 
you will be unable to arise. Kana! Awake!” 

K ANA’S eyelids stirred, flickered, rose. Slowly, and 
at first uncomprehending, his eyes took in the 
scene, passing from one to another of the group. Then, 
as he caught sight of Ralph, the peaceful look vanished, 
to be replaced with an expression of such virulent 
hatred that Lotus shrank back instinctively with a little 
cry of dismay. At the sound, the blazing eyes with 
their uncanny white rims were turned upon her. 

“So! You are all here?” he spat out. “You, too, 
woman, who has returned the Master’s love and care 
by plotting with his enemies! You expect to com- 
panion with this heretic dog you call Ralph Morton. It 
is lucky for you that yonder yellow cur proved stronger 
than Kana or you would have found a nice, cold, twisted 
corpse to which you could have given your morning 
kiss!” 

“Be silent, Kana,” said the Doctor, mildly. “You 
are under my control now, it is true, but only that 
you may not further endanger our lives by your un- 
natural rage. I have come to make you an offer. If 
you refuse it, you are free to go and I myself will take 
you wherever you desire. We cannot hold you in re- 



468 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



straint, for that would be to break the Law of the 
Triangle.” 

“It were better for you that you should drop me 
over the balcony as that elephant suggested,” growled 
Kana, glaring at Geoffrey, “for be sure, if you free 
me, the Master’s vengeance will be swift and terrible! 
Well, make your offer and let me go!” 

“You have your choice of two things, Kana,” said 
the Doctor, still in the same calm, unruffled manner. 
“Either you shall sign this paper of your free will 
or we will release you to go back to your master. But 
remember, that in the event of your choosing the latter 
alternative, we four shall be in the presence of the 
Three before you can reach Clifford Weatherby and to 
the Three we will make report of all we know.” 

Kana disregarded the paper which was held in front 
of his eyes and looked at the Doctor in amazement. 

“You would go to the Three!” he muttered, unbe- 
lievingly. “The Three who would order the destruction 
of your laboratories and condemn you all to banish- 
ment!” 

The Doctor made no reply, but pointed silently to 
the paper. Kana’s eyes scanned it rapidly, and as he 
read, the hatred which he had previously displayed 
was as nothing to the consuming passion which now 
distorted his features. 

“The Claverly operation!” he roared furiously. “You 
would submit me to the Claverly operation and make 
me into a whining milksop, like yourselves?” 

“Only with your free consent, Kana,” corrected the 
Doctor, silkily. “If you do not wish to sign, say so 
and you are free — until the Three send for you.” 

The play of emotions upon Kana’s black face defied 
description. 

“You devil!” he exclaimed at length, a touch of un- 
willing admiration in his voice. “Your choice is no 
choice at all! Who am I that I should purchase my 
soul at the price of the master’s betrayal? Free my 
hand and give me the pen. But stay! If I submit 
myself to the Claverly operation,- do you four swear that 
you will not report these events to the Three?” 

“We promise, Kana, we do not swear,” said the 
Doctor gravely, while the others nodded their assent. 

“I believe you,” hissed the negro, “not because I 
trust you, but because you dare not go to the Three! 
Give me the pen!” 

The Doctor freed Kana’s right arm and he signed 
the paper with a flourish. 

“Bring on your butcher’s tools!” he cried, flinging 
the pen across the room viciously. “I am ready!” He 
closed his lips and spoke no more. 

Dr. Umetaro had come prepared for Kana’s capitula- 
tion. In a moment he had adjusted around the negro’s 
neck a metal harness to which were attached two pro- 
jecting fingers, somewhat similar to the contrivance 
which Ralph had worn during his convalescence. Almost 
instantly Kana became unconscious. 

“My substitute for the old-fashioned anaesthetic,” 
explained the Doctor. “These fingers, by pressure upon 
the appropriate nerves, produce instant and complete 
unconsciousness, without in the least affecting the 
functions of the organs. As a matter of fact, it is 
perfectly possible to perform most operations with 
‘memory blocking’ as I call the method I used on you, 
Ralph. As in the case of ‘Twilight Sleep,’ an anaes- 
thetic in common use about two centuries ago, ‘memory 
blocking’ does not deaden pain at all. It simply causes 
the subject to forget pain the instant it has passed. I 
did not deem it wise to use the ‘memory block’ in 
Kana’s case, on account of his violent temperament. 

“Now, my dear Geoffrey, will you kindly carry our 
patient to the roof, while I prepare my instruments.” 



I N a little while Kana was lying face downward 
upon an improvised operating table which Ralph 
had erected. Lotus shaved away the kinky black wool 
for a considerable distance around the spot which the 
Doctor indicated, and performed the various prelimi- 
nary preparations with the accustomed confidence of 
the skillful nurse. 

Ralph and Geoffrey were both conscious of a qualm 
of suppressed horror as the Doctor, with swift move- 
ments, cut a series of free incisions in the scalp and 
turned back the flaps of skin, which Lotus secured by 
means of clamps. In this age of universal peace and 
health, neither of the young men had ever seen an 
operation performed and when the tiny, motor-driven 
saw began to bite into the exposed skull, it required 
an effort on Ralph’s part to prevent him from turning 
away his head. 

The complete unconcern with which Lotus did her 
share and a running fire of comments from the Doctor, 
had the effect of steadying Ralph’s nerves and before 
long he found himself watching with admiration the 
slender yellow fingers as they guided the instruments. 

“It was formerly customary to use a circular trepan,” 
remarked the Japanese, “and the opening in the skull 
had to be closed by means of a platinum or silver 
plate. Claverly perfected the instrument which I am 
using. As you see, it removes a star-shaped plug of 
bone, which is then placed in this aseptic fluid. At the 
conclusion of the operation, the plug is replaced and 
grows into the skull.” 

When the surface of the brain lay bare to their 
sight, the Doctor gave a little grunt of surprise. 

“No wonder Kana is a throw-back,” he exclaimed. 
“The anterior portion of the Claverly tissue is nearly 
twice as large as in normal brains. Now gentlemen, 
comes the delicate part of the operation. I must ask 
you to be perfectly silent and to refrain from any sud- 
den movement. Lotus San, please hand me the cere- 
brotome.” 

For the next twenty minutes Ralph and Geoffrey 
watched in breathless absorption a display of manual 
dexterity which, in spite of their inexperience in such 
things, filled them with amazement. When it was 
over, the Doctor laid aside his scalpel with a sigh of 
relief and picked up forceps, with which he replaced 
the star-shaped plug of bone. Finally, he drew the 
flaps of skin into place, sealing each incision with a 
liquid cement, which hardened instantly to the con- 
sistency of rubber. 

“Another improvement for which we have to thank 
the Rebels!” he commented. “What do you think of 
it, Lotus San?” 

“I think it’s wonderful, Doctor,” replied the girl, 
“but doesn’t the cement interfere with healing?” 
“Not in the least,” the Doctor assured her. “It 
has every desirable property; rapid hardening, great 
tenacity, strength and elasticity, besides being com- 
pletely porous, transparent and powerfully antiseptic. 
It may be removed instantly by applying this liquid.” 
“You see, Ralph,” explained Lotus, “I have always 
been accustomed to seeing incisions stitched up. The 
surgeons at Jacksonville use no other method of closing 
wounds. Bad scars are often the result.” 
Involuntarily her eyes strayed to Geoffrey’s face. 
She turned away instantly, flushing red in embarrass- 
ment that she should have caused pain by her care- 
less remark. 

“A relic of the dark ages!” smiled the Doctor, as 
he adjusted the last of the dressings. “Superficial 
sutures in the Age of Social Enlightenment! The 
modern outlook on science conveyed in a single 
sentence!” 

Lotus mentally blessed the Doctor for his gallant at- 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



469 



tempt to gloss over her discomfort, but she was not 
entirely happy. In one brief glance she had seen 
Geoffrey’s face, redder than her own and with the 
ugly scar standing out in ghastly whiteness. 

Her embarrassment lasted but a moment before it 
was driven out by another emotion. There swept across 
the tablets of her mind that undefinable sensation of 
witnessing a repetition of some long-forgotten experi- 
ence. Who was this Geoffrey Von Elmar? Where had 
she seen that huge form and scarred face before? Why 
had the sight of him awakened no memory until she 
saw him turning away and flushing crimson with shame 
at her heedless remark? 

There was no answer to these questions forthcoming, 
either then or later, when, restless and puzzled, she lay 
awake on her couch, turning the problem over and over 
in her mind and studying the face of Geoffrey Von 
Elmar as he lay sleeping in the moonlight. 

CHAPTER X 

The Discovery of Florium 

A UTUMN was laying her golden hand on the moun- 
r\ tains caressingly, glorifying the valleys with a 
riot of color, as though to soften the harshness 
of the coming winter, or, perhaps, to leave a memory of 
beauty which should brighten the tedium of the long, 
cold months. 

The outlines of the peaks, shorn of their gaunt 
primitiveness by an enveloping mantle of blue haze, 
seemed to draw nearer and smile in gracious friend- 
liness. Already a few brief flurries of snow had 
whirled their way flippantly up the glacier and whit- 
ened the summits, revealing shelves and ledges whose 
presence passed unsuspected until the feathery flakes 
settled there and revealed them. 

The weeks had been filled with work and study for 
the four friends, with the added labor, in Dr. Umetaro’s 
case, of tending the unconscious Kana. The advent 
of the negro with his news of Clifford Weatherby’s 
underhanded schemes drove away all desire to relax 
their efforts. The Doctor had nothing to report from 
Rebel Headquarters save the daily message, “No re- 
sults!” If only they could discover the antidote for 
the disease, they might yet save the ore in Antarctica 
which Weatherby’s agents had infected. Perhaps Kana 
could be induced to reveal the secret. 

Ralph suggested the possibility of this to Dr. Ume- 
taro, who smiled inscrutably. 

“By all means ask him,” was all he said, but he 
shot a questioning glance at Lotus, who nodded in 
silent reply, as though the two had some secret under- 
standing. 

At last the day came when the Doctor proclaimed 
Kana completely recovered, though still very weak. 

“Carry our friend to the balcony, my dear Geoffrey,” 
said the little surgeon, “and I will restore him to 
consciousness. Come, Ralph! Come, Lotus San!” he 
called to the workers in the laboratory. “Let our friend 
awaken to his new life surrounded with smiling, 
friendly faces.” 

Geoffrey deposited Kana’s inert figure on a reclining 
chair and the others gathered round wonderingly and 
a little doubtfully as Dr. Umetaro removed the bandages 
which swathed the black head. A touch with a brush 
dipped in liquid and the leathery adhesive came 
away. There was no trace of the wound except for the 
shaven spot and even this was already showing a new 
growth of hair. 

Lastly, the Doctor removed the anaesthetizing 
clamps from the neck and stood back. 

Slowly the heavy lids were raised and Kana looked 



from one to another of the smiling faces with puzzled, 
lifeless eyes, which no longer burned with their old- 
time animal ferocity. Suddenly his features were lit 
by the full flame of intelligence and he struggled to 
rise, only to fall back in weakness. 

“The Claverly operation!” he murmured softly and 
again, “The Claverly operation!” He turned his eyes, 
all wet with tears, to the Doctor’s genial face, and feebly 
extended his hand. “Thank you! Oh! Thank you, 
my friend. To think that I should have hesitated to 
sign! Your wish, Ralph! And you, Geoffrey and Miss 
Grenville. May the All Wise reward you for what 
you have done!” 

As the days passed and Kana slowly regained his 
full strength, the amazement of Ralph and Geoffrey 
increased rather than diminished. Unconsciously, they 
had both questioned the efficacy of the operation and 
they regarded Kana’s transformation as something of a 
miracle. 

As though by direct contrast, the new Kana displayed 
a gentleness and sweetness which would have bordered 
on effeminacy, but for the inherent manliness of his 
character’. Next to the Doctor, whom he worshipped 
with an almost canine devotion, Kana fixed his affec- 
tions upon Ralph, displaying an attitude which seemed 
to imply the desire to make amends for some great 
wrong. 

It must not be supposed that Kana had, in the slight- 
est degree, forgotten his former life. He remembered 
it with as much vividness as though the Claverly opera- 
tion had effected no change in him. Indeed, he re- 
tained many of his former characteristics, at least those 
which may be described as beneficent, as Geoffrey had 
occasion to discover with great emphasis, when he 
attempted to question Kana about Weatherby and es- 
pecially with regard to the antidote to the iron disease. 

“You find me much changed, my friend,” Kana replied 
to Geoffrey’s interrogations, “as indeed I am, but in one 
small matter the Claverly operation has made no differ- 
ence. When Dr. Umetaro’s blessed knife cut away the 
foul cells from Kana’s brain, it did not remove his 
loyalty and faithfulness to those who had the right to 
claim them in the past. I loved him whom I called the 
Master. Inconceivable as it is to me now, I loved him. 
That my love has been transformed to hatred and 
disgust does not weaken my loyalty in those matters 
which concern my past existence. 

“To you four I owe all that makes life worth living. 
Ask me what you will in repayment; yes, even life 
itself, and I will give it freely and gladly, but do not 
ask me to betray the secrets I learned before I was 
reborn, for you shall tear my tongue from its roots 
and burn my body to ashes before I will break silence.” 

The negro’s lustrous orbs blazed with the internal 
fire which had chilled the blood in Geoffrey’s veins at 
their first meeting, but now it -was the fire of noble 
resolve and the young man turned away, ashamed that 
he should have so much as thought of asking Kana 
to descend to his former level of deceit. 

T HE passing of the centuries has not lessened the 
strangeness of what cynics are pleased to call 
coincidence, but which seers and scientists call Fate. 
Kana had broken into the hidden valley to spy upon 
and destroy its inmates. He had come equipped with 
all the powers of evil to accomplish his Master’s ends. 
The transformed Kana was withheld by his innate sense 
of loyalty from rendering the help which he so longed to 
give. Yet it was through Kana that there came the 
first ray of hope which illumined the researches of the 
four workers, since they had undertaken the voluntary 
task of replacing the lost iron mines of the world. 

It came about in this wise. 



470 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



The four men were sitting on the balcony watching 
Orion heave his glittering shoulders over the eastern 
ranges. The chill of winter was in the night air and 
Ralph, ever watchful for the comfort of others, saw 
Kana shiver. 

“My Flower,” he called to Lotus who was preparing 
the sleeping couches on the roof-space. “Kana is cold. 
Will you bring him one of my tunics?” 

Lotus brought the tunic and folded it around the 
negro’s shoulders. He looked up at her with a grateful 
smile and buried his hands in the warm fabric. A 
moment later, he drew from one of the pockets a lump 
of some heavy material. When he held it up in the 
faint starlight, it shone with an unearthly, purple phos- 
phorescence. 

“What a beautiful thing!” he cried. 

His exclamation drew the attention of the others 
and the glittering object was passed from hand to 
hand until it reached Ralph. He recognized it instantly. 

“Why Lotus, do you know what this is?” he said. 
“It is a piece of the amethyst rock from the bed of 
the glacier. I broke it off and put it in my pocket 
when I left you to search for a way of escape. Look, 
Geoff!” 

Geoffrey seized the gleaming stone and examined it, 
with growing excitement, by the light of his pocket 
torch. He had specialized in geology and his expert 
eyes immediately confirmed what Ralph had dimly sus- 
pected when he found the substance under the ice. 

“It’s new, absolutely new!” he exclaimed. “It’s 
utterly unlike any known mineral. It has the color 
of an amethyst, combined with the softness of talc. 
It has the opacity and texture of chalk, together with 
a true phosphorescence far more intense than any other 
compound, either natural or artificial. This is cer- 
tainly a find, Ralph.” 

Ralph took the brilliant stone from his excited 
friend and turned a smiling face to Lotus. 

“It is the most beautiful thing in the world, Beloved, 
since it witnessed our meeting. When we are com- 
panioned, we will place it in our home to light the 
paths of memory.” 

“I appreciate your sentimental affection for this 
lump of rock, my dear Ralph,” intervened the Doctor, 
quizzically, “but I fear that duty must come before 
sentiment. We made up our minds long ago to leave 
no stone unturned in our search for a cure for the 
iron disease. Surely this stone also must be submitted 
to the turning process, or, in other words, to analysis. 
Perhaps I am foolish, but that steady purple light 
seems to shine out with a promise of some great 
discovery.” 

“Of course, you are right. Doctor,” Ralph replied. 
“I will start work on it tomorrow.” 

True to his word, Ralph plunged into the task of 
analyzing the new mineral at an early hour next morn- 
ing. He was assisted by Lotus, whose training included 
a very fair knowledge of chemistry. Besides her tech- 
nical qualifications, Lotus brought to Ralph the stimula- 
tion and encouragement which only her loving, sym- 
pathetic presence could provide. 

Lotus’ perfect comprehension of the work on which 
they were engaged made conversation unnecessary. 
There were long silences between them, silences which 
served to intensify the feeling of comradeship, a mental 
phenomenon which is a commonplace with those who 
share both work and pleasure. Sometimes, how- 
ever, their absorption was broken by fragments of 
conversation. 

“Explain something to me, Ralph,” said the girl, on 
one of these occasions. “I know how people look upon 
the idea of scientific research. I understand, of course, 
that what we are doing now is utterly at variance with 



modern ethics. In fact, having grown up in strictly 
orthodox surroundings, I can’t quite overcome the feel- 
ing that we’re doing something horribly wicked in 
tampering with science. Are you quite sure that re- 
search work is not wrong?” 

“Of course I’m sure, my Flower,” Ralph replied, 
emphatically. “If any doubt lingered in my mind, do 
you suppose that I would permit you to remain here?” 
“Perhaps I might have had something to say in that 
matter, my Ralph!” she smiled. “Of course, I accept 
your assurance, but I simply cannot understand how 
public opinion was turned against scientific progress. 
In the olden days, the progress of civilization was ap- 
parently measured in terms of the new inventions and 
discoveries which were made. What could have caused 
such a complete change in people’s feelings?” 

R ALPH bent down to gauge the flow of a reagent 
from a pipette. He made no reply to Lotus’ ques- 
tion for several seconds. 

“In the first place, Beloved,” he said straightening 
up, “the world in the olden days was not nearly so 
unanimous in its approval of scientific progress as you 
think. In those days, education was by no means as 
universal as it is today. There was a very curious 
tendency amongst the ignorant to draw a sharp dividing 
line between Pure Science or knowledge, and Applied 
Science or accomplishment. There has never been a 
period in the world’s history when students of science 
for its own sake were not reviled and despised.” 

“But how could they expect accomplishment without 
knowledge?” asked Lotus, wonderingly. “One might 
as well expect a man to build a house without plans 
or — or to make bread without a recipe !” 

“Or to kiss without lips?” Ralph added, laughing and 
illustrating his example. “Nevertheless, such was the 
case. Let me give you one example. Quite early in 
the twentieth century there were two great scientists. 
I am ashamed to say that I have for the moment for- 
gotten both their names, but it doesn’t matter. One was 
an American, the other a German. The American was 
not what we should call a great theorist, but he had a 
wonderful genius for applying the discoveries of others 
to the everyday uses of man. He probably made more 
practical inventions than any man who ever lived and 
he was universally revered as a benefactor of mankind. 

“The German, on the other hand, was a dreamer of 
unsurpassed mathematical genius. He made discoveries 
in pure science before which the great thinkers of today 
stand amazed and spellbound. Was he honored for his 
mighty accomplishments? Not in the least! Except 
for a few far-seeing fellow scientists, his work was 
the subject of contempt and ridicule. So-called funny 
papers used him as the butt for their cheap sarcasms 
and the reputation of many a public speaker was made 
by the introduction of some stupid joke bearing upon 
the great Teutonic Scientist.” 

“But, Ralph! Why! Why!” cried Lotus, her lips 
trembling with indignation. 

“Simply because you can’t eat a mathematical 
formula, my Flower,” Ralph answered, “neither can you 
build houses nor planes from the stuff of which dreams 
are made. The people were too blind, as they are to- 
day, to realize that theory must come before practice, 
as dawn must precede day. It was not until fifty years 
later, when some common mechanic discovered that 
this German’s formulas were a complete solution of 
directed power transmission by radio, that the world 
awoke to the greatness of the genius whom they had 
derided. Even then, it was the mechanic who received 
nine-tenths of the credit!” 

“How ridiculous!” exclaimed the girl. “Tell me 
more, Ralph.” 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



471 




In the midst of the chaos stood 
Ralph. . . . In his right hand 
he held aloft the bar of florium, 
shining with the ghostly blue 
radiance which illumined the 
moon. 



“Most people think,” continued Ralph, “that what we 
call the Orthodox Body of Scientific Beliefs was es- 
tablished at the same time as the foundation of the 
Board of Control in Santa Lucia, but the fact is that 
the world was prepared for such a change long before 
this. As early as 1920 various states and nations 
began to pass laws against scientific research. Don’t 
make a mistake. It wasn’t the application of science 
they objected to; it was knowledge. In effect, these 
laws said, ‘You may build planes, install machinery, do 
anything you like to make our lives happier and more 
comfortable, but you must do it blindfold. You must 
neither study nor teach the very things which we wish 
you to accomplish.’ ” 

“I have never heard this before, Ralph. Please 
go on.” 

“There’s not much more to tell. As you know, the 
Age of Social Enlightenment brought about a healthier, 
saner way of life. One of the results of this was that 
people lost interest in pure science. It wasn’t long be- 
fore the world began to look back upon the scientists 
of the past as gods, or at least, as inspired prophets. 
The revelations of these divine beings were regarded 
as sacred. This attitude grew with the passage of 
time, until today the mere idea of adding to or taking 
from the Orthodox Body of Scientific Belief is looked 
upon with horror and loathing.” 

At last, the tedious and exacting work of analysis 
was complete. Ralph called the others around him and 




472 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



displayed for their inspection a little cylinder of metal, 
measuring about three centimeters in diameter and 
twelve in length. It was azure blue in hue and shone 
with a steady radiance many times as intense as that 
of the mineral from which it was derived. 

“Let me be the first to congratulate you, my dear 
Ralph,” cried the Doctor. “There is no possible ques- 
tion that you have discovered a new element; the first 
to be added to the list for more than two centuries.” 

“A new element!” exclaimed Lotus. “What shall we 
call it?” 

“How about glacium?” suggested Geoffrey, “in mem- 
ory of the frozen chasm in which you found it?” 

“Would it not be appropriate for the discoverer to 
have the honor of choosing a name?” spoke Kana, from 
his reclining chair, by the wall. The idea was unani- 
mously approved. 

“Then I shall call our new element, florium,” said 
Ralph as he passed his arm around Lotus 1 shoulders 
and drew her to him, “in memory of the Flower which 
blossoms in my life.” 

“Florium! Accepted!” from the others. 

“Excellent!” said the Doctor. “Now it only remains 
to determine the properties of florium and experiment 
with it in order to see if it will aid us in our task of 
curing the iron disease.” 

“That is not a long task,” said Ralph. “I will start 
to work now.” 

“But it’s supper time, dearest,” protested Lotus. 
“Surely you have worked long enough for today.” 

“I could not rest or sleep until I have determined 
at least the principal properties of florium,” Ralph 
answered. “Its hardness, elasticity, electrical and 
chemical reactions — it won’t take more than a couple 
of hours. Just this once, have supper without me. I 
can’t eat until I have finished,” and he turned back to 
the bench. 

Fifteen minutes later, Lotus, Geoffrey, Kana and 
the Doctor were gathered around the supper table on 
the balcony. The serene silence of a late September 
evening brooded over the valley and was mirrored in 
the silence of the four friends. 

"Suddenly, from the direction of the laboratory, came 
the sound of a tremendous crash. The entire building 
trembled as though with the impact of hundreds of 
tons of rock, falling from above. Clouds of dust bil- 
lowed out of the open light-spaces and floated slowly 
away on the still air. 

For a moment they sat in stunned terror. Their 
faces showed the simultaneous fear of some terrible 
catastrophe. Next instant they were on their feet and 
crowding through the door of the laboratory. 

What a sight met their eyes! 

The room was in semi-darkness. The opaque wail- 
screens had closed as the result of the tremendous shock, 
cutting off the light of day. Only by a bluish radiance 
which came from one end of the room and diffused 
itself into every part, they saw that all the elaborate 
equipment of the laboratory was torn from its fasten- 
ings and piled up in confused heaps, wrecked beyond 
repair. Benches, ferroverters, lathes, machine tools, 
were lying in tangled masses, many of the steel parts 
being bent into distorted shapes, as though by the 
clutch of some giant hand. 

In the midst of the chaos stood Ralph. His tunic 
lay on the floor. His shoulder bore an ugly, ragged 
gash, from which the blood flowed freely. In his right 
hand he held aloft the bar of florium, shining with the 
ghostly blue radiance which illumined the room. His 
face bore an expression of ecstatic triumph. 

“Florium! florium!” he cried. “All is solved!” 

His knees sagged and his body slumped forward into 
Geoffrey’s arms. 



CHAPTER XI 
Eternal Calm 

S UNSET at sea. A sky, cloudless save in the west, 
where tenuous filaments of fairy gold hung motion- 
less in a furnace of crimson glory, beneath which 
the ocean, unbroken by even so much as a breath of 
wind, heaved slowly. Far away in the northwest, a 
broken line of royal purple revealed the presence of a 
distant shoreline. 

Ten thousand feet above the glassy surface of the 
sea, a single plane was cleaving the air with the quiet, 
effortless flight of a swallow. The plane was a small 
one, in comparison with the mighty ocean liners of the 
day, being a light six-seater, built for speed and com- 
fort, rather than for carrying power. At first sight, 
the plane seemed to differ but slightly in design from 
the gasoline-driven airships of the early twentieth cen- 
tury, but closer inspection would have revealed marked 
difference in basic principle from the crude machines 
of those far-off days. 

The wings, which were very small in proportion to 
the weight to be carried, were not covered with a 
uniform layer of varnished fabric or sheet metal, but 
were composed of thousands of tiny circular discs with 
spaces between. These discs, known as the Lifting 
Helices, were pivoted individually, each being provided 
with a driving motor no larger than a thumbnail. 

The motors were something more than merely driv- 
ing units, since they possessed the power of picking 
up the high tension oscillatory currents from the radio 
power-base and transforming them into rotary motion 
for the lifting helices, half of which turned in one 
direction and half in the other. The tiny motors were 
extremely simple in construction, being turned out 
in thousands by automatic machinery which was de- 
signed by the inventor in 1987, since when, of course, 
no change had been made. 

No driving propeller was provided, the plane pro- 
gressing by a continuous action of “falling down' hill.” 
This gliding process was made possible by the fact 
that the wings were true planes, since the little whirl- 
ing discs formed a practically continuous surface. In 
other words, the planes of the twenty-third century 
were gliders, maintained in the air by a combination 
of vertical suction and wing support. 

Radio power lines radiated from the huge hydro- 
static and tidal power plants to all parts of the world 
and 'so long as a plane followed the beam, a plentiful 
supply of power was available. In the event of a 
plane leaving the beam, auxiliary power was provided 
by a vrilol generator. Vrilol, which is a liquid by- 
product of allotropic iron, possesses the property of 
generating high-tension current when driven at high 
pressure against gold wires. It has been known for 
many centuries that high tension or static electricity 
could be produced by means of high-pressure steam, 
but no use had ever been made of this principle until 
vrilol was discovered with its wonderful convenience 
and efficient. 

Occupying the control seat of the speeding plane 
was Ralph Morton, his shoulder in bandages. Beside 
him sat the Doctor. Lotus, Geoffrey and Kana were 
reclining in the luxurious chairs in the cabin, watching 
the ever-new marvel of the setting sun. 

“We’re a bit early, aren’t we, Doctor?” remarked 
Ralph. “You said we mustn’t reach our destination 
until dark.” 

“No, I think not,” said Dr. Umetaro, replying to 
Ralph’s question. “We have another five hundred miles 
to go and it will be dark in an hour. Night comes 
with startling suddenness in these tropical regions.” 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



473 



“What is our destination. Doctor?” Lotus asked. 
“You promised to tell us after we left land. Please 
don’t be so mysterious!” 

“I’m not intentionally mysterious, Lotus San,” re- 
plied the Doctor, “at least not secretive. I asked you 
four to come with me on this trip because I wanted 
you to receive a pleasant surprise. I will tell you now 
that we are going to the headquarters of the Rebels; 
the meeting place of all the greatest scientists of the 
world.” 

“I suspected as much,” said Geoffrey. “But you 
spoke just now of five hundred miles. The only land 
within that distance is Santa Lucia. Surely you don’t 
mean to say that the Rebels meet under the very 
noses of the Three!” 

“Hardly!” smiled the Doctor. “The Rebels are 
brave, but not quite as brave as that!” He would 
tell them no more, but turned his attention to his 
duties as navigator. Under his directions and guided 
by Ralph’s hand, they hurled forward into the gathering 
gloom at a steady speed of just over four hundred miles 
an hour. 

Once Ralph made a motion to switch on his lights, 
four in number, head, tail, “ceiling” and “floor” lamps, 
but the Doctor put out a restraining hand. 

“We must fly in complete darkness, my dear Ralph,” 
he said. 

“It’s going to be rather dangerous, landing without 
the floo.r-light,” Ralph commented. 

“Trust to my guidance and do not worry,” the Doc- 
tor replied, briefly. 

They were all straining their eyes for signs of land 
when the Doctor raised his hand. 

“We have arrived!” he exclaimed. “Descend to five 
hundred feet and hover.” 

As the plane swooped down to the lower level and 
hung motionless 1 in the air, they could see the reflec- 
tion of the gleaming constellations below them, mir- 
rored in the glassy surface of the sea. They were all 
wondering whether the Doctor had made some mistake 
in his calculations, but before any of the four could 
put their doubts into words, the smooth water was 
broken by some object which rose from the depths, 
like the head of a huge marine beast rising for air. 
As nearly as they could judge, this object was about 
two hundred feet in diameter and perfectly circular. 

T HE surface of the circle was jet black, but after 
a brief interval, a small spot of light appealed 
in its centre, rapidly spreading until the whole area 
was dimly illuminated. 

“You had better let me take the controls,” said the 
Doctor, moving over into Ralph’s place. 

The plane began to sink, at first swiftly and then 
with decreasing speed, towards the circle of light, which 
seemed to widen as they drew nearer. Now they were 
able to see that what had appeared as an illuminated 
surface was actually the mouth of a vertical shaft 
with polished walls. Presently they found themselves 
dropping down the shaft, and looking upward, could 
discern a circle of black sky, dotted with stars. A 
moment later there was a faint clang and their view 
was cut off by a metal roof which closed the upper 
end of the shaft like the closing of the iris diaphragm 
in the lens of a camera. 

Perhaps, had not their absorbed interest in their 
novel surroundings distracted their attention, they 
might have seen a tiny speck against that blue-black 
sky: a speck like a watching eye hung motionless in 
the heavens, hovering — hovering! 

Still the plane sank slowly and they realized that 
they were descending into the ■ depths of the ocean. 
Looking down, they could see no bottom to the shaft, 



but on raising their eyes again, a new surprise awaited 
them. The roof was no further away than it had been 
when it first closed. 

“Look, Ralph!” exclaimed Lotus, pointing up. “The 
top of the shaft is following us down!” 

Her explanation was correct. The whole gigantic 
shaft was telescoping upon itself and, as it were, 
drawing them into the unknown abysses of the ocean. 

The four friends were so absorbed in watching this 
strange phenomenon that they failed to notice that 
the end of their journey was at hand. There was a 
slight jar and the plane came to rest. 

Geoffrey opened the door of the cabin and they 
stepped out into a great, circular room which was, 
in fact, the bottom of the shaft. They were looking 
about them, wondering what was to be the next stage 
in their strange adventure, when a section of the wall 
swung aside, revealing a broad archway, through 
which a group of people, clad in sombre tunics, ad- 
vanced towards them. 

As the group drew nearer, Ralph could see that it 
was composed of persons of all ages and of both sexes, 
but that they were alike in displaying a certain auster- 
ity of expression. Life in the Age of Social Enlighten- 
ment certainly promoted universal health and happi- 
ness, but the suppression of man’s natural curiosity 
in scientific matters had tended to soften and beautify 
the features, rather than to strengthen them. It was 
in this respect that Ralph found the faces of the ap- 
proaching group most attractive. They reminded him 
of pictures he had seen of the great thinkers of past 
ages. He realized, of course, that it was a clear case 
of natural selection. Only such as possessed the cast 
of mind which was revealed in the features of these 
Rebels, would # voluntarily isolate themselves from their 
fellow-men at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, in 
order to be free to pursue their investigations un- 
molested. 

While these thoughts were passing through Ralph’s 
mind, the group of Rebels drew near and their leader, 
a finely built man of about seventy, raised his hand In 
courteous salute. . 

“Your wish, Ota Umetaro,” he greeted the Japanese. 
“Your welcome to Eternal Calm is the greater that you 
bring with you the brightest ray of hope which has 
ever penetrated these depths.” 

“Your wish, Frank Darwin,” answered the Doctor, 
returning the salute. “It is not I who bring the light, 
but this young man, Ralph Morton, whom you sent 
me out to find.” He laid his arm affectionately around 
Ralph’s shoulders. 

“Your wish, Ralph Morton,” exclaimed the Rebel 
Leader, clasping Ralph’s hand in his, while the others 
clustered nearer to welcome the blushing young man 
who had excelled them all in his achievements. The 
Doctor introduced Geoffrey, Lotus and Kana by name, 
and each one came in for a share of congratulation. 

“Our friend, Dr. Umetaro has revealed very little of 
your discovery, Ralph Morton,” said Darwin. “We, 
with hundreds of other Rebels who are gathered to do 
you honor, are hungry for details. Tonight you will 
refresh yourselves and rest. Tomorrow, if it please 
you, we will meet in the Crystal Chamber to learn of 
your plan. Then we can decide what is best to be 
done and how we can overcome the opposition and 
prejudice of the Three. 

A beautiful young girl, whose breastplate bore the 
name Gabrielle Sabre, escorted the travelers from the 
Landing Room, which they now saw was surrounded 
with hangars containing many light planes, similar to 
their own. 

“There are visiting Rebels from Divisions all over 
the world,” Gabrielle explained. “They have all come 



474 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



to hear the good news of your discovery. I am official 
hostess for the year,” she continued. “It is my duty 
and pleasure to entertain all who come.” 

“You are a scientist, are you not?” asked Lotus, who 
had fallen in love with the charming French girl im- 
mediately. 

“Biology is my specialty,” Gabrielle replied. “I am 
studying the possibilities of insect education.” 

“But don’t your duties interfere with your research 
work?” Ralph asked. 

“To some extent, but any regret I may have felt on 
that score is wiped out by the honor which has come 
to me tonight,” Gabrielle answered, smilingly. “Be- 
sides, I have but two months more to serve. Then I 
am to companion and resume my investigations. That 
will be three great happinesses in one year.” 

They were passing through a long corridor with many 
arched doorways, through which they could catch 
glimpses of laboratories, wonderfully fitted for scien- 
tific work. Finally their guide led them into a small 
room, which they could see was one of a suite of three 
apartments. The one in which they stood was fur- 
nished as a dining room and the table was laid with 
six places. Adjoining it was the sleeping room and be- 
yond that a curtained arch opened into a pool of clear 
water. 

“No doubt you will enjoy a plunge after your long 
flight,” suggested their hostess. “When you return, 
supper will be ready.” 

When they were revelling in the delightful coolness 
of the salt water, the astonishment of the three young 
people at the wonders they had seen, burst forth in a 
flood of questions, which threatened to drown the 
Doctor. What was the exact purpose of this marvelous 
submarine structure? When was it built and by whom? 
How had its very existence been kept a secret from 
the world? How could life be maintained in the ab- 
sence of fresh air? Of what material was it con- 
structed that it could withstand the tremendous pres- 
sure of the water? 

“My dear children,” laughed the Doctor, when he 
could stem the tide of interrogations, “you had better 
submit your enquiries to Gabrielle Sabre, who is far 
better fitted to answer them than myself. This I can 
assure you, that you have not seen one-tenth part of 
the wonders of Eternal Calm.” 

W HEN they were gathered at the supper table, 
the Doctor opened the conversation. 

“These young people have been trying to asphyxiate 
me with questions, my dear Gabrielle,” he said. “Per- 
haps you can satisfy their curiosity.” 

“What would you like to know?” asked the girl. 
“First tell us the object of this wonderful place,” 
Lotus begged. 

“It is the Headquarters of the Rebels,” Gabrielle ex- 
plained. “Just over a hundred years ago, when the 
strong prejudice against scientific work first began to 
make its appearance, a little group of scientists, of 
whom Frank Darwin’s father was the leader, con- 
ceived the idea of founding a secret society for carry- 
ing on research. The question of a retreat, where in- 
vestigations could be continued unhampered, was their 
first consideration. It was Erasmus Darwin — he was 
a descendant of the great scientist of the nineteenth 
century — who proposed the establishment of a settle- 
ment at the bottom of the sea. This spot was selected 
on account of the suitable nature of the ocean floor, 
because of its being off the regular air-lanes, and also 
because of its nearness to Santa Lucia, the Island of 
the Three.” 

“A bold stroke of policy,” commented the Doctor. 
“The Three would hardly expect to find men and women 



carrying on the forbidden work under their very noses.” 
“Eternal Calm, as we call the building, was the work 
of many years,” Gabrielle continued. “In fact it is be- 
ing continually enlarged, as our increasing member- 
ship demands.” 

“I should have thought,” remarked the practical 
Geoffrey, “that a structure w'hich had to withstand such 
enormous pressure would have to be built as a unit 
and then lowered into place.” 

“On the contrary,” replied their hostess, “it was far 
simpler to make small sections and unite them on the 
site of the city. Have you noticed the shape of all the 
rooms?” 

They had, in fact, been struck by this feature, but 
had supposed that it was part of an unusual architec- 
tural design. 

“The whole city is built up of hollow polyhedrons of 
various sizes. This shape gives the maximum re- 
sistance to pressure with the minimum weight, if w'e 
exclude the sphere which, for obvious reasons, is im- 
practicable. These many sided rooms are cast in one 
piece of gold-iridium-steel at a secret foundry in the 
center of Greenland. From there they are brought at 
night by fleets of planes and dropped into the sea. 
They are made of such thickness and volume that they 
are only slightly heavier than sea-water. Thus their 
weight under water is practically nothing. It is a 
simple matter for divers, working in specially con- 
structed machines, to bring the various segments into 
contact and to weld them together electrically. As soon 
as the welding is complete, openings are cut between 
the various rooms by means of the oxyhydrogen flame.” 
“What puzzles me even more than the City itself,” 
Lotus said, “is the fact that its existence has been kept 
an absolute secret for so many years.” 

“Ah! That is because you do not know its history,” 
interposed the Doctor. “You imagine the secret to be 
in the hands of all the Rebels and that in the course 
of time some traitor would be sure to reveal what he 
knows. Explain our method, Gabrielle.” 

“The reason why the secret of Eternal Calm has been 
kept inviolate,” said the girl, “is because it is known 
to no one. Neither I nor Dr. Umetaro nor any of the 
Rebels knows the exact location of the City.” ' 

“I don’t quite understand,” said Ralph. “You say 
no one knows the location of the City, yet the Doctor 
was able to come directly here.” 

“I said that no one knew the secret,” Gabrielle ex- 
plained. “I did not say no thing!” 

“But how can a thing keep a secret?” Ralph ejacu- 
lated, “and what thing?” 

“It is as simple as it is wonderful,” explained their 
hostess. “There is a substance called centrion which 
Erasmus Darwin discovered, though whether he found 
it in the form of a natural mineral or whether he 
created it from other materials we do not know, for it 
defies analysis. The peculiar property of this centrion 
is the affinity which its parts possess for one another. 
This attraction is not physical, that is to say it is not 
tangible to the ordinary senses. It seems to act in 
some way upon the human nervous system. 

“Darwin made or found a large mass of centrion, 
from which he cut twelve tiny pieces. Each of these 
pieces is mounted like a jewel in a ring, but in such a 
way that the surface of the stone touches the finger of 
the wearer. As long as the ring is worn, the wearer 
feels an irresistible urge in the direction of the parent 
mass of centrion. We call these rings the Pathfinders.” 
“But surely it would be quite simple to locate the 
Eternal Calm by surveying,” demurred Lotus. “What 
is to prevent any one of the Rebels from taking bear- 
ings by the stars?” 

“There are two things,” elucidated Gabrielle. “One 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



$75 



is that the Pathfinders are entrusted only to Rebels of 
unquestioned integrity, like your friend Dr. Uraetaro. 
The other is that no one enters or leaves Eternal Calm 
by himself.” 

“I think I understand,” said Ralph, thoughtfully. 
“You have all promised not to know the site of the 
City; not to try to determine its location. There is not 
one chance in a thousand that one of you will prove un- 
faithful, but to guard against such a possibility, you 
go in and out in groups — one watching another. How 
simple and yet how effective. Still — I don’t quite un- 
derstand.” 

The Doctor regarded Ralph with an amused smile. 

“You don’t understand why I was permitted to enter 
without a companion Rebel,” he said. “Why, my dear 
friend, there were at least two Rebels in the plane 
with me!” 

“You mean — ” commenced Ralph, doubtfully. 

“Yourself and Geoffrey, of course,” the Doctor cried. 
“The requirements for membership in the Rebels are 
mental requirements, a scientific type of mind. We have 
no promises or cumbersome rules. Our method of 
sending forth the Pathfinders is a wise tradition, noth- 
ing more. It was enough for me that you were scien- 
tists and — my friends.” 

“Thank the All Wise!” exclaimed Gabrielle. “If your 
hopes come true, the need for secrecy will soon be a 
thing of the past. But I forget my duties as hostess,” 
she continued, rising and slipping her arm around the 
other girl. “Your Lotus blossom droops for weariness, 
Ralph Morton. Come, let us sleep!” 

So they slept in Eternal Calm with the surface of 
the sea, now tossing restlessly in a freshening breeze, 
five thousand feet above them. And through the long 
night, that watching eye hung motionless in the 
heavens, hovering — hovering! 

CHAPTER XII. 

The Crystal Chamber 

N EXT morning, if such a word can he used of a 
place where day and night are eternally the 
same, Ralph woke clear-eyed and refreshed, to 
find the others already up. 

Gabrielle greeted them at the breakfast table, after 
their swim, and explained the programme for the day. 

“Frank Darwin wishes you to see some of the won- 
ders of Eternal Calm,” she explained, “so he has called 
the meeting in the Assembly Room for this afternoon, 
at 2 o’clock. After breakfast, if it will please you, we 
will visit some of the laboratories.” 

“That will be splendid!” Ralph exclaimed. “You 
can’t realize what a wonderful thing it is, Gabrielle, to 
find a place where science can be worshipped openly. 
At least it seems so to us, after all these years of play- 
ing hole-and-corner. Isn’t that so, Geoff?” 

“I fear that you will not find many of the worshippers 
at their devotions today,” Gabrielle smiled. “You see, 
we have dropped our regular work to concentrate our 
energies on the Great Problem, as we call the iron dis- 
ease. When news of your discovery arrived, the need 
for further research was removed and we felt unable to 
go back to our own work until we had heard your 
report, Ralph. Shall we go?” 

Guided by Gabrielle Sabre the little party passed 
through innumerable many-sided rooms, while Dr. Ume- 
taro kept up a running fire of comments. To describe 
the equipment of the laboratories would be to write a 
catalogue of every scientific instrument known to the 
Twentieth Century, with countless others which would 
have been unfamiliar and even meaningless to the sa- 
vants of that age. 



In one series of huge rooms were samples of all the 
discoveries and inventions which had been perfected by 
the Rebels in their secret retreat. Here they could look 
upon the accomplishments of two hundred years, lying 
idle until the coming of an age less bigoted than the 
present, when they would burst forth to usher in an 
era of material progress such as the world had never 
seen. 

Ralph and Geoffrey were enchanted and even Lotus, 
to whom much of the scientific equipment was hidden in 
mystery, felt her sense of the romantic awaken at the 
sight of all these motionless machines. 

“Here is a plane invented by Tanaka Kitana, a fellow 
countryman of mine,” explained the Doctor, directing 
their attention to a slender structure of shining metal 
and glistening glass. 

“Where are the wings?” demanded Geoffrey. 

“There are none,” elucidated the Doctor. “I call it a 
plane for lack of a better word, but it is equally at home 
in any of the three elements. It is sustained and pro- 
pelled by means of inductive action. A system of coils, 
surprisingly simple considering what they accomplish, 
draws power from the beams and then acts repulsively 
upon the earth in any desired direction,” 

“Has it been tried out?” Ralph asked. 

“Oh, yes!” answered the Doctor. “We have a simi- 
lar one which we use for special errands at night. Only 
last year I used it to deliver some papers of importance 
to a Rebel Astronomer in the Andes. After I had car- 
ried out my instructions, I thought I would see what the 
machine would do, so I rose to ninety miles and circled 
the world. I did it in just under forty minutes!” 

“Forty minutes!” Lotus gasped. “But, Doctor, that 
is nearly forty thousand miles an hour.” 

“I see that you are good at rapid calculations,” 
smiled the Doctor. “Yes, that was the speed. It got 
uncomfortably hot, due to the friction of the air, even at 
that altitude, but I dared not go higher lest I run 
into meteorites.” 

Ralph and Geoffrey felt that they could have spent 
hours in studying the contents of this marvelous mu- 
seum, but Dr. Umetaro would not permit them to stay 
for more than a few minutes. 

“You have all your lives before you,” he said, “Now, 
I want you to see our observatory.” 

“An observatory, a mile under water!” exclaimed 
Geoffrey. 

“You will see!” smiled the Doctor. “Indeed, we have 
an observatory; a unique one, have we not, Gabrielle 
Sabre?” 

They passed through a doorway into a small room, 
the walls of which were unlike any part of Eternal 
Calm which they had seen. The many-sided blocks 
were absent and the room was a simple dome, con- 
structed apparently of some highly polished black metal. 

Ralph looked in vain for any sign of a telescope or 
other apparatus which should be found in an astronomi- 
cal observatory. The total contents of the room com- 
prised half a dozen comfortable chairs and several metal 
standards bearing upon their upper ends objects which 
resembled reflectors, as indeed they were. 

Gabrielle Sabre requested her guests to be seated 
and extinguished the single luxifer panel above the door. 
The room was plunged in darkness, which, in a few 
moments, gave place to a faint bluish glow. Slowly the 
mysterious radiance grew stronger, became endowed 
with movement, life. Ghostly shadows flitted back and 
forth, weaving and blending in patternless dances. 

Suddenly the dome flashed into full brilliance. Lotus 
gave a little cry of dismay and shrank closer to -Ralph. 
They were in the heart of a jewel, a sapphire of incon- 
ceivable transparency and fire, a mighty cerulean crys- 
tal peopled by Beings which gaped and goggled with 



476 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



jaws and eyes whose devilish hideousness was partly 
offset by hues which rivalled the rainbow. 

Dr. Umetaro’s voice broke the silence. 

“What do you think of our observatory, my friends ? 
Here we come to watch the finny tribes with whom we 
share the seclusion of the ocean floor. The dome is 
allotropic iron, ten feet thick and more transparent than 
the finest glass. The reflectors flooded the waters with 
light for hundreds of yards. We never lack for enter- 
tainment or study, since the radiance attracts fish of all 
varieties, as a magnet attracts steel.” 

T IME ceased to exist for the four friends as they 
sat, wrapped in wonder, watching the ever-changing 
drama of life in the depths. Men have entertained the 
belief that the flowers were created to please their sense 
of beauty, but here were living blossoms upon which 
Nature had lavished her most gorgeous hues, where no 
ray of light could come to kindle them into visibility 
and where, save for the Rebel scientists, no human eye 
would ever enjoy them. 

Here, a flock of tiny fishes, carmine shading into rose 
and splashed with glittering silver, fled . before some 
invisible enemy and hurled themselves against the outer 
surface of the transparent globe whose curvature caused 
them to spread in all directions, like living sparks of 
fire from a rocket. Swimming with leisurely swiftness 
came the pursuer, a nightmare goblin of blue and gold, 
jaws bristling with a triple row of teeth like needles, 
protruding eyes of unblinking cruelty set close together 
in front of a grotesque, misshapen head. 

Balked of its prey, or perhaps distracted by the bril- 
liance of the reflectors, the six-foot monster paused to 
inspect its human watchers. As it hung there, intent, 
motionless save for the slow pulsation of fins and tail, a 
shadowy something darted out of the gloom with incred- 
ible speed and touched the side of the golden fish. In- 
stantly the passive immobility was changed into a tur- 
moil of struggle. In the light from the reflectors, the 
shadowy something materialized into a writhing, fleshy 
arm, studded with suckers and fully fifty feet in length. 

In vain the golden goblin dashed itself hither and 
thither in hopeless endeavour to evade impending death. 
Another and yet another of the dreadful tentacles flicked 
out of the obscurity and fastened upon the doomed mon- 
ster. Now the whole mass of the attacker was revealed 
in all its bestial ugliness. A bloated globe of flesh for a 
body, like a bladder distended with blood. A circle of 
tentacles, each as thick as a man’s body. A segmented 
beak like a parrot’s, each segment as large as an ele- 
phant’s tusk and keen as a razor. 

The implacable tentacles drew inward, and with a 
thrill of horror, the watchers saw the golden goblin 
drawn to that snapping beak. In a few 7 seconds the 
drama of Life and Death was over. The last golden frag- 
ment disappeared into the hungry maw and the mon- 
strous squid withdrew into the shadows from which it 
had emerged. 

Lotus was trembling with disgust and even Ralph and 
Geoffrey were sickened by what they had witnessed. 
Seeing their emotion, Gabrielle extinguished the flood- 
lights. They were once more in the little room of pol- 
ished black metal. 

“That is a performance of which we are always as- 
sured,” commented the Doctor. “Soon after the observa- 
tory was constructed, that fellow took up his abode 
among some rocks close by. Whether it was instinct 
or intelligence I do not know, but he discovered that the 
light from the reflectors was a guarantee of a good 
meal. He is never satisfied with small fry. He waits 
for the appeai’anee of a fish which will satisfy his hun- 
ger. Then he strikes. He has been there for over a 
century!” 



“I’ve read of these giant devilfish,” Geoffrey said. 
“In olden days, sailors called them sea-snakes.” 

“Sea Serpents, you mean, Geoff,” corrected Ralph. 

“Yes, there were legends in the old days of sailing 
vessels, but it was not until some time in the nineteenth 
or twentieth century that the truth of the legends was 
proved by the finding of a dead polyp on the sands, 
somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. Am I right, Doctor?” 

“I believe so,” replied the Japanese. “However, Ga- 
brielle Sabre is a much higher authority on these mat- 
ters than I. Perhaps she can enlighten you.” 

“I think Lotus has seen and heard enough about our 
deep sea friends,” said their hostess, smiling at the 
other girl understandingly. “Let us return to our apart- 
ments. When we have rested and enjoyed some refresh- 
ments, it will be time for Ralph Morton to meet the 
Rebels.” 

Two hours later, Frank Darwin entered the room in 
which the visitors were conversing after luncheon and 
raised his hand in salutation. 

“Your wish, Ralph Morton! Your wish, Friends!” 
he greeted them. “The Rebels await your pleasure in 
the Crystal Chamber.” 

As Ralph followed the Rebel President through the 
corridors, he was conscious of mingled sensations of 
pride and fear. He was only a young man; young in 
years and very young in knowledge compared to the 
body of scientists which he was about to face. In the 
ecstasy of his discovery, failure had seemed impossible. 
During the journey to the City of Eternal Calm, the 
exaltation of his spirit was sustained by the enthusiasm 
of his friends. But now, when his proposal was to be 
submitted to the touchstone of the accumulated Scientific 
wisdom of centuries, his heart failed him and his plans 
seemed w'ild and impossible. 

Something of his thoughts mu3t have been apparent 
in his features, for he felt a soft hand slipped into his 
and heard Lotus whisper, “Courage, dear!” 

Then he was aware of a great blaze of light and 
raised his head to find himself standing in the arched 
entrance to the most marvelous room he had ever seen. 

Well was it named the Crystal Chamber! Octagonal 
in shape and fully two hundred feet across, the domed 
ceiling was studded with countless thousands of jewels, 
whose facets glowed with polychromatic radiance. The 
colors were not fixed but changed constantly. Waves of 
rose and azure and ivory flowed and rippled and blended 
with whirling spirals of violet and emerald green. This 
might have been the paradise of the flowers, where the 
souls of the dying blossoms had come to mingle in an 
eternal dance. 

Ralph wrenched his gaze from the glamorous beauty 
of that mighty dome and looked around him. He was 
facing a great crescent of terraced seats, filled with a 
multitude of men and women, all clad alike in the som- 
bre brown tunics and breeches which were the custom- 
ary costume of the scientists. Darwin slipped one arm 
around his shoulders and urged him forward a few 
steps in advance of the rest of the little party. 

As though Darwin’s action were a signal, the entire 
concourse surged to its feet and burst into a roar of 
welcome. 

“Your wish, Ralph Morton!” 

Slowly the whirlpool of colored light began to fade. 
Dimmer and dimmer grew the glory of those luminous 
crystals until only a faint pearly glow diffused itself 
through the great chamber. Ralph took another step 
forward and withdrew his hand from the folds of his 
tunic. A gasp of wonder went out as he raised above 
his head the tiny bar of florium. Its ghostly purple 
radiance seemed to shine with the promise of secret 
power, of unrevealed mysteries. 

Ralph’s courage returned and he began to speak. 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 477 



W HEN Ralph Morton concluded his brief address, 
there was no repetition of the enthusiasm 
which had greeted his entrance. The assemblage waited 
in silence as the light flowed back into the crystal dome 
and the blackness of despair enfolded the young scien- 
tist. He had failed to convince them! Florium was 
nothing but a foolish dream; a vapor dissipated in the 
cold wind of superior knowledge. 

A little group detached itself from the silent audience 
and approached him. Half a dozen grave-faced men 
and women, led by a white haired giant who took from 
Ralph’s nerveless hand the little bar of florium. Si- 
lently the glowing wand was passed from one to another. 
When all had examined it, the aged giant turned to the 
assemblage. 

“Friends!” he said, his low voice throbbing with emo- 
tion, “eighty years ago today I entered Eternal Calm. 
For eighty years I have probed the secrets of that 
mysterious fluid we call electricity, the fluid which is 
the framework of all created things. It has remained 
for this young man to reveal a secret greater than any 
of which we have knowledge. 

“The world is in need. If the metal which has been 
called florium in honor of this fair girl, actually pos- 
sesses the properties which Ralph Morton states, it will 
fill the great need of the world today. There is no rea- 
son to doubt the efficacy of florium. Its powers have 
been witnessed by our friend Dr. Umetaro, whom you all 
know. It remains only to convince the Board of Con- 
trol that the time has come to cast aside the bigoted 
prejudices of centuries and permit science to come into 
her own again. Once this permission is obtained, the 
lost iron, which is the life blood of civilization, will be 
restored. 

“Nor will this be the sole result of Ralph Morton’s 
discovery. Once the barriers are broken down, science 
will again be free to shed her countless blessings upon 
mankind. Ralph Morton, in the name of the Rebels, I 
thank you!” 

Then indeed the silence was broken. Shouting for 
joy, the Rebels crowded forward to shake Ralph’s hand 
and to congratulate him. It was long before any sem- 
blance of order could be restored. 

When at last Darwin was able to make himself heal'd, 
his voice rose above the turmoil of excitement. 

“Friends! Friends!” he cried. “In the delirium of 
our joy, do not let us forget that we still face an almost 
insuperable difficulty. We have to overcome the bastions 
of human prejudice and inertia. Whom shall we send 
to the Three?” 

“Ralph Morton! Ralph Morton!” shouted a hundred 
voices. 

“You have heard, Ralph Morton,” Darwin said. “The 
danger is great. You may be exiled or even imprisoned 
as a heretic. Perhaps we ask too much from one who 
has already given so generously. Will you go?” 

“Of course I will go!” accepted Ralph, without hesi- 
tation. “Alone? Perhaps that will be best. If I fail, 
another can try.” 

“No, you shall not go alone, Ralph Morton,” said Dar- 
win. “You shall choose your own companions. There 
is not a Rebel who would not gladly face worse than 
imprisonment for the Cause.” 

“You will come, will you not, Geoff?” Ralph asked, 
turning to his friend. 

He looked for instant acquiescence. To his astonish- 
ment, the blond Vulcan, the very embodiment of fear- 
lessness, cringed and threw up one hand, as though he 
had been struck. 

“I cannot! I dare not!” he muttered, his scarred face 
ghastly white. “Ask me anything — my life if you will 
— but not that ! I dare not do what you ask !” 

Before Ralph could protest, Kana interposed. 



“Will Kana serve in Geoffrey Von Elmar’s stead?” he 
asked. “I have a debt to pay.” 

“I shall be glad to have you, Kana,” Ralph said heart- 
ily, “not because of any fancied debt, for I know of 
none, but because I trust you.” 

“We three will go,” suggested Dr. Umetaro. “Ralph 
Morton as the messenger, Kana as the guardian, and I 
to pilot the plane, for we will take Kitana’s machine. 
If we have not returned in three days, you will know 
that we have failed. Geoffrey will stay to watch over 
Lotus San and to hold the secret of the florium ore 
bed.” 

“Do not worry,” said Kana, confidently. “We shall 
not fail. Kana scents success in the air and Kana 
knows ! He is changed, but he is still a Zulu.” 

CHAPTER XIII 

The Place of the Three 

I T was the hour before the dawn. Black night brooded 
over the tossing ocean, but the great entrance cham- 
ber to the City of Eternal Calm, five thousand feet 
below, was flooded with light. 

Hundreds of silent, brown-clad figures lined the cir- 
cular walls. The Rebels had come to bid Godspeed to 
the dauntless three who were about to set forth upon an 
errand, the success of which meant so much to the cause 
they loved — the cause of science. 

At the centre of the floor, immediately below the 
sliding, watertight doors of the telescopic shaft, rested 
the flier which was to take them to Santa Lucia, the 
island of the Three. A slender cylinder of burnished 
silver, with graceful, pointed ends, the flier showed ab- 
solutely no external evidence of mechanism. No driv- 
ing screws or supporting wings broke the glistening 
curves. It seemed the embodiment of speed; but lack- 
ing the means of propulsion. 

Ralph Morton, Dr. Umetaro and Kana stood beside 
the flier, saying their last farewells to a little group 
which included Lotus, Geoffrey, President Darwin, Ga- 
brielle Sabre and the snowy-haired electrical engineer, 
Olaf Ericsson. 

Ralph took advantage of a conversation between Erics- 
son and the Doctor, in which the others were absorbed, 
to draw Lotus aside. 

“Do not worry, my Beloved,” he whispered. “It will 
all be over in twenty-four hours. Either we shall per- 
suade the Board of Control to give science a chance or 
we shall fail. Even if we do fail, I am sure that the 
Three will not punish us; at least not severely. After 
all, we are risking our freedom to help the world. In 
justice they can hardly be very harsh with us, even if 
they look upon us as heretics.” 

Characteristically, Lotus passpd over Ralph’s argu- 
ments and went back to his first words. 

“I am not worrying, my Ralph,” she assured him with 
a smile whose radiance gave evidence that she spoke the 
truth. “I am not a psychic, like Kana, but I am a 
woman. I know that you will succeed. Don’t ask me 
how. I simply know.” 

“Yes, you are a woman, darling. My woman,” he 
said softly, putting his arm around her. “You allow 
your love to control your judgment.” 

Lotus rubbed her cheek against his shoulder and 
laughed. 

“You will see!” was all she would say. 

“I wish Geoff was coming,” Ralph said in a troubled 
voice. “I don’t understand his attitude at all. I should 
have said that he would be the last man in the world to 
show the white feather.” 

Lotus laughed again, a little ripple of amusement. 
“You don’t know your friend as well as I do, dearest. 



478 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




Ericsson concluded his conversation with the Japa- 
nese doctor and the latter beckoned to Ralph. 

“It is time we were on our way, Mr. Morton. We 
must leave Eternal Calm before any ray of light can 
reveal its presence to passing planes. Good-bye, Mr. 
Darwin. Good-bye, friends.” 

As Ralph kissed his companion, her eyes smiled up 
into his with an expression of such complete confidence 
that he followed the Doctor into the entrance of the flier 
almost light-heartedly. Something of Lotus’ assurance 
communicated itself to his handshake with Geoffrey 
and his hearty, “Good-bye, old fellow. Get your plans 
ready for the florium mine. We’ll be back this time 
tomorrow with carte blanche from the Three!” 

Dr. Umetaro touched a switch and the door slid si- 
lently into place. For a moment they were in darkness 
and then panels slid back revealing heavy ferrover win- 
dows above, below and on both sides. 

Glancing upward, Ralph saw that the roof of the 
shaft was rising. The mighty telescope was extending 
itself against the pressure of the water — a pressure of 



Ralph had. one glimpse of the faintly luminous 
mouth of the shaft, which was girdled with a 
wreath of foam. 



I am perfectly certain — as certain as if he had told me 
with his own lips — that Geoffrey Von Elmar has some 
good reason for not going with you. There is some- 
thing which makes him feel that his presence would be 
dangerous, not to himself, but to your mission. Did you 
see how the scar flamed on his poor face? I know Geoff 
well enough to have noticed that that is not a sign of 
fear within him, but of anger or excitement. Tell me, 
Ralph, how did he get that injury?” 

“He never told me, my own. As you know, we were 
at college together. At the end of our fifth year, he 
went away for the summer holidays without telling me 
where he was going. When he returned, his face bore 
that awful scar. He declined to say what had happened 
and neither of us had mentioned if since.” 





A MODERN PROMETHEUS 379 



nearly two hundred tons on every square foot of its sur- 
face. The Doctor turned a control knob and the flier 
lifted smoothly from the floor and began to follow the 
moving roof. 

There was no beat of engines or whirr of mechanism. 
Supported upon a yielding column of electrical force, 
they floated upward as lightly as a ferroloid ball on a 
fountain. Far below, Ralph could see a fantastic mosaic, 
hundreds of white faces upturned and in their midst a 
flash of azure blue as Lotus snatched off her tunic and 
waved it in a last farewell. 

The crowded entrance chamber drew together rapidly 
to a vanishing point and Ralph could see nothing but 
the polished walls of the shaft, which seemed to be 
rushing down into the abyss. In a few moments the 
movement slowed, then ceased, and he was aware of a 
curious, irregular thudding noise. 

“Stormy weather up here,” the Doctor observed 
“Well, that will do no harm. Rather it will reduce the 
chances of a stray plane catching sight of us.” 

The great iris diaphragm which closed the upper end 
of the shaft, swung open, revealing a circle of inky 
blackness across which flew spatters of spume in the 
grasp of a howling gale. The Doctor touched the con- 
trols and they shot up into the night. Ralph had one 
glimpse of the faintly luminous mouth of the shaft, 
girdled with a wreath of foam. Then the diaphragm 
closed and the ocean once more hid the secret of the 
City of Eternal Calm. 

The Doctor allowed the flier to rise to a height of 
about a thousand feet above the sea and then, glancing 
at the compass, prepared to set his course for Santa 
Lucia. He explained to the others that it might be 
necessary to wait until daylight before landing, as he 
did not know the exact location of Eternal Calm. The 
Pathfinder which he wore upon his finger, was useful 
for finding their way back. It could not help them to 
reach Santa Lucia or any other point on the surface of 
the globe. They must fly blind and trust to observa- 
tions after daylight. 

The Doctor was about to make some further remarks, 
when Kana gave a cry and pointed dowmvard through 
the floor panel. Far below Ralph saw a disc of light, 
intensely brilliant, in which the tossing waves were re- 
vealed with stereoscopic vividness. For a moment he 
thought that the entrance to Eternal Calm had been 
reopened. Then the radiant circle began to move in a 
rapidly widening spiral and he realized that it was 
caused by a beam of light falling upon the sea from 
above. 

“I anticipated something of this sort,” remarked the 
Doctor, calmly. “Hold tight, gentlemen!” 

Suddenly the nose of the flier dipped downward at 
an angle of fifty degrees or more. The Doctor touched 
a switch, shutting off the current in the repelling coils, 
and the flier fell like a meteor towards the ocean. As 
Ralph clung in breathess nausea to his seat, he caught 
a fleeting glimpse of that whirling spot of light. It 
rushed towards them, touched, hovered, bathed them in 
its ghastly white rays. Then the needle-sharp nose of 
the falling flier cleft the water almost without impact. 

Next moment there was a tremendous, jarring shock, 
followed by the roar of an explosion. All three men 
were hurled from their seats to the floor, while the flier 
quivered as though in agony. 

W HEN Ralph picked himself up, to find no bones 
broken, Dr. Umetaro was already at the controls. 
Through the windows, Ralph could see the water rush- 
ing by with incredible speed. Then the panels slid over 
and shut off the sight. 

“By the Three!” he exclaimed. “What was that?” 



“A message from Clifford Weatherby,” grunted Kana, 
staunching the blood from a cut in his cheek. 

“From Weatherby?” repeated Ralph. “How do 
you know?” 

“I know his methods,” responded the negro. “I’ve 
been conscious of his presence ever since we entered 
Eternal Calm. I thought he would try to get us when 
we left.” 

“One must acknowledge that our friend Weatherby 
is persistent,” remarked the Doctor over his shoulder, 
“but his style is somewhat crude. Depth bombs went 
out of use several centuries ago. He should have con- 
sulted the Rebels. They have perfected a form of oscil- 
latory current — a kind of ray — which would have turned 
the flier and us with it into gas, in a fraction of a sec- 
ond. Of course, the Rebels did not design the ray for 
any such purpose. It is intended for civil engineering 
work; mining, tunnels, canals and that sort of thing.” 

For an hour the silver needle fled towards the south- 
east. Five hundred feet below the surface, the three 
men were safe from the hatred of Weatherby and his 
followers. Conversation languished and there was a 
long silence, save for the shrill hiss made by the flier as 
it sped through the water. 

At last, the Doctor placed his tiny radio wrist watch 
to his ear. 

“Five o’clock,” he announced. “We’ll go up now. 
We’ve come three hundred miles from Eternal Calm and 
Weatherby dare not trouble us by daylight, even if he 
could find us.” 

A touch on the controls and the nose of the flier 
tilted up at a sharp angle. The Doctor switched off the 
interior lighting and slid open the window panels. For 
a few seconds they were wrapped in profound darkness. 
Then came a faint glimmer of bluish green growing 
rapidly stronger and culminating with startling sudden- 
ness in a burst of sunshine as the flier leaped from 
ocean to air, shaking from its glittering sides a shower 
of sparkling spray and leaving a pattern of concentric 
ripples to mark, for a few brief seconds, the spot whence 
it came. 

Freed from the retarding friction of the denser ele- 
ment, the flier shot upwards with constantly accelerated 
velocity. Ralph could only guess at their speed, but he 
knew that it must be far in excess of anything he had 
experienced, for, looking downward, he could actually 
see the bounding circle of the horizon widening. 

“Look up!” advised the Doctor. 

Ralph turned his eyes to the upper windows and gave 
a gasp of amazement. The sky was no longer azure 
blue, but a deep blue-black and studded with stars whose 
number and steady lustre were much greater than the 
heavenly orbs when viewed from the surface of the 
earth. Low in the east hung the sun, a globe of intoler- 
able brilliancy, surrounded with a girdle of crimson 
flames. 

“Eighty-five miles,” remarked the Doctor, pressing a 
switch. “High enough, I think. We’re practically out 
of the atmosphere. What do you think of our stellar 
universe now, gentlemen?” 

Ralph was searching his mind for a reply which would 
not seem futile in the face of this glorious display when 
Kana, who had been standing motionless at one of the 
windows, suddenly flung himself prostrate on the floor, 
uttering broken, unintelligible phrases in the Zulu 
tongue. Presently he raised himself and spoke in 
English. 

“Indeed, indeed Kana owes a debt he can never pay!” 
he exclaimed, as though unconscious of the others’ pres- 
ence. “Ambition — power — wealth ! What puny things, 
when the All Wise has vouchsafed Kana one glimpse of 
His splendor!” 



480 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



Ralph’s emotions were too deep to permit of speech. 
He reached out his hands and clasped those of Kana 
and the Doctor. At last the latter broke the silence 
with a sigh. 

“Weif\ust return,” he said. “It is too dangerous up 
here without the air to shield us from the artillery of 
heaven. Look, there is our destination !” 

He pointed down to where a chain of emerald beads 
broke the blue convexity of the ocean. 

“Santa Lucia, The Island of the Three,” said the 
Doctor and turned the nose of the flier to the east. 

In half an hour they were hovering above a grove of 
stately cabbage palms, beyond which a line of creamy 
surf kissed a beach of golden sand. There was no sign 
of human habitation and the Doctor dropped the flier 
gently to the ground in an open space among the trees. 
The three men stepped out upon a sward of green velvet. 
Great sheaves of spotted orchids hung pendant from the 
branches of a towering cinnamon. Masses of mauve 
bougainvillea afforded harborage for butterflies of in- 
credible. wing-spread and every conceivable hue. Far 
away were purple hills and over all arched the blue 
dome, flecked with fleecy cloudlets. 

“Centuries ago men called them the Summer Isles! 
Surely the name was a happy choice,” philosophized the 
Doctor. “Well, my friends, our task is before us. Let 
us face it.” 

From a pocket of his tunic he produced three jew- 
elled name-plates and handing one to each of the others, 
bid them substitute them for the ones they wore on 
their throat chains. Glancing at his wonderingly, Ralph 
found that it bore .the name “Prometheus.” Kana’s was 
inscribed “Enceladus” and that of the Doctor “.ZEscu- 
lapius.” 

“A fanciful notion of Frank Darwin’s,” explained Dr. 
Umetaro, smiling at Ralph’s puzzled expression. “He 
thought it wise that we should interview the Three 
incognito. Do you not think the names are appro- 
priate ? 

“Oh ! Quite so,” Ralph acknowledged. “A bit flatter- 
ing in my case!” And if he blushed and seemed agi- 
tated, the Doctor attributed his evident emotion to mod- 
esty, or possibly to a natural dislike of masquerading 
under false colors. 

“Let us be on our way,” advised the Doctor. “I chose 
this place for our landing lest the sight of the strange 
flier might cause alarm. The Place of the Three is five 
miles from here, in the hills. We will walk.” 

They started on the final stage of their fateful jour- 
ney, Kana carrying a metal case about a foot square. 
Soon they emerged from the trees and followed a wind- 
ing foot-road, bordered with luxuriant vegetation. Here 
and there they passed thatched cottages with bamboo 
walls, surrounded by gardens in which grew tropical 
flowers and shrubs in great profusion. The universal 
spread of civilization and culture had not altered the 
mode of life in these happy islands. These simple cot- 
tages were cool and comfortable. What more could be 
desired? Only the senseless spirit of emulation which 
caused so much heart-burning and poverty in the old 
days could have prompted a wish for change. 

T HE road wound its way towards the uplands and 
finally, after an hour’s walk, brought them to a 
gently rolling plateau. Here the sight that met Ralph’s 
eyes caused his thoughts to turn to Boecacio and the 
gardens of Italy. Serene-faced men and women wan- 
dered among a riot of blossoms or reposed on cushioned 
scats in the shade of mighty ebony and teak trees. 
Through openings in the foliage one caught vistas of 
graceful dwellings. On a slight rise in the centre stood 
a magnificent building of ivory and crimson ferrolith, 



its slender, fluted columns and sculptured architrave 
displayed the exquisite charm of modern architecture 
at its best and noblest. 

It was the Place of the Three, the seat of the Board 
of Control, the centre of Government for a whole 
planet. 

Seeing that they were strangers, a pleasant featured 
young man approached them and bowed courteously. 

“Your wish, friends,” he accosted them, smilingly. 
“How can I serve you? Are you visitors of pleasure, 
or have you business with the Board?” 

“We wish for audience with the Three,” explained 
Ralph. “Our business is urgent.” 

“The Three are the Servants of the World,” stated the 
young man sententiously, as though he were quoting a 
ritual. “Just at present, however, they are exceedingly 
busy with this storage of ore in Antarctica. A rather 
terrible thing has happened, you know. Perhaps you 
have heard. The ore dumps on the ice have become in- 
fected with the disease. It looks as if matters were 
approaching a crisis.” 

“As a matter of fact, our business concerns the iron 
supply,” Ralph said. “We have a report to make.” 
“You are mine superintendents, perhaps,” suggested 

the other. “I don’t remember your faces or ” he 

hesitated, his eyes on Ralph’s breast, “your names.” 

“We are not connected with the mines,” Dr. Umetaro 
interposed. “Nevertheless, we have certain suggestions 
to make which may be of benefit. We have come a long 
way, and greatly desire an audience with the Three.” 
“You must be weary,” sympathized the young man. 
“Come with me and I will see that you have rest and 
refreshment. Where is your plane?” 

“Not being familiar with the island, we left the plane 
by the sea shore,” explained Ralph, as they accompanied 
their new friend towards a small building which glowed 
like a garnet among the trees. “We walked from there, 
so breakfast would be most welcome.” 

“This is my home,” volunteered the guide, whose 
name-plate bore the words Tsen Sheng. “Perhaps you 
will graciously accept my hospitality during your stay.” 
They entered a circular court, open to the sky and 
with a fountain playing in the centre, and were greeted 
by Tsen Ling, their host’s companion. 

“While you breakfast, I will interview the Three,” 
Tsen Sheng said. “I am one of the Secretaries to the 
Board and will endeavour to arrange an audience. Of 
course, the Three are the Servants of the World, but 
they are indeed very busy. Nevertheless, I will do what 
I can. Let me see; the names,” and he pulled out his 
tablets. “P-R-O-Prometheus. Is that correct? And the 
others. Forgive me, but I don’t think I have ever seen 
names quite like them. The A and the E joined together! 
Quite unusual, is it not?” 

A touch from the Doctor restrained Ralph from speak- 
ing and the bland little Chinese secretary hurried away 
on his errand, leaving his guests to the ministrations of 
his charming, yellow skinned companion. 

An hour later Tsen Sheng bustled in, smiling more 
cheerfully than ever. 

“The Three will grant an audience,” he announced. 
“As I told you, the Three are the Servants of the World. 
They will meet you in the Palm Grove this evening at 
sunset. We are fortunate, are we not, my Delight?” he 
said, beaming at Tsen Ling. “Our friends will be able 
to remain with us until nightfall. When they have 
rested, we must show them our beauty spots, although 
the Place of the Three is all so delectable that it is hard 
to pick out one spot which exceeds any other in love- 
liness.” 

Escorted by the cheery Chinese couple, the three 
friends spent, the day wandering through a Paradise 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



481 



on earth. Dr. Umetaro and Kana possessed the happy 
faculty of being able to detach their minds from worry 
and both enjoyed themselves to the full, but Ralph’s 
nerves were in a tremor of excitement and it was with 
intense relief that he heard Tsen Sheng announce that 
it was time to return for the evening meal, after which 
they would go to meet the Three. 

The sun was setting over a sea of sapphire glass as 
they left Tsen’s home and followed the secretary along a 
winding pathway bordered with Hibiscus and Oleander, 
from which they emerged into a grove of graceful 
Crown Palms. A short distance away was a cluster of 
seats. Three figures rose as they approached and Ralph’s 
heart leaped and then sank as he recognized the big 
Irishman, Hector Shawn, the dignified Hindoo, Kanzo 
Singh, and the svelte French woman, Felice Mincheau. 

“Your wish, friends ! How can we serve you?’’ boomed 
Shawm’s deep voice. 

They were in the presence of the Three 
CHAPTER XIV 
Kana Pays His Debt 

T HE Three resumed their seats and waited with 
grave, attentive faces for their visitors to speak. 
Ralph hesitated, appalled at the realization that 
upon his shoulders rested the hopes of all those earnest, 
brown-clad men and women, far away beneath the At- 
lantic. It was not sufficient that he had made, almost 
by accident, a discovery fit to rank with the greatest in 
scientific history; a thousand others had done as much 
or more. 

No, the discovery of florium was a means to an end. 
It devolved upon him to demonstrate the properties of 
this mystery metal so convincingly that the Three would 
be forced to acknowledge the supremacy of science; 
would lift the ban from the practice of research and 
pave the way for a new era of material progress. Who 
was he, a man still in his early youth, that he should 
dare to hope for success in a combat with the prejudices 
of centuries? 

These thoughts flitted across the background of 
Ralph’s mind. In the meantime the Three sat silent, 
gravely attentive; the giant, Shawn, with his piercing 
black eyes and cloven chin; the austere philosopher, 
Kanzo Singh, erect and dignified; the gentle Felice, 
with an expression of disarming sweetness, beneath 
which hovered a hint of the unswerving will and unfal- 
tering sense of logic, which had won her a place as one 
of the joint rulers of the globe. 

Ralph tried in vain to marshal his forces, to muster 
the arguments he had conned over so many times in 
the past few days. He glanced despairingly at Kana 
and the Doctor, but his two friends stood with down- 
cast eyes. They felt instinctively that the time had 
come for Ralph to take the initiative. 

Suddenly there flashed across his mind a picture; a 
vision of hundreds of white faces upturned to his, the 
faces of the Rebels at the bottom of their great shaft. 
He saw the flicker of a blue tunic waved above a golden 
head. He heard a calm, confident voice whispering, 
“Courage! You will succeed.” He felt the warm pres- 
sure of a parting kiss. 

Ralph raised his head. His eyes met the enquiring 
gaze of the Three with power and assurance. He took 
a quick step forward and began to speak. 

“Servants of the World, I Prometheus, together with 
my friends Aesculapius and Enceladus, have sought this 
audience on a matter of great moment. We have come 
from a great distance and have encountered strange 
perils on our journey. In order for our errand to be 



successful, it will be necessary for the Three to cast 
down and trample upon beliefs that have been theirs 
from infancy — yes, and their fathers’ and their fathers’ 
fathers before them. 

“It would be rash for me, a young man, to attempt to 
convince any man of error, but it is the height of pre- 
sumption for me to hope to mould the minds of the Ser- 
vants of the World into a new pattern. Nevertheless, 

I purpose to attempt the task. Because the task is so 
great and because we three have risked much to under- 
take it, therefore I plead with you that I may be heard 
in patience and with an open mind, and that I be for- 
given if I fail. Is it granted?” 

As Ralph paused, there was modesty but no humility 
in his bearing. There was silence for a few seconds 
and when, at last, Kanzo Singh spoke, his words had no 
reference to Ralph’s request. 

“There was a young man, a reporter, at the Iron- 
masters’ Convention where we first heard of the disease. 
He greatly resembled this young man, but he was dark- 
skinned, while this man is white. He said that he came 
from the Hindoo Division. Our friend here is obviously 
American. The reporter’s name was Morton. This 
man’s name-plate is inscribed Prometheus.” 
“Prometheus and Ralph Morton are one, Kanzo 
Singh” said Ralph, neither glance nor voice faltering, 
“but you are wrong in one respect. You asked Ralph 
Morton if he was of the Hindoo Division. He replied 
that his mother was an American. It is many years 
since any man has worn upon his plate any name save 
his own. That I have done so is because the need was 
great and I ask that this also be glossed over until I 
have revealed our errand. Again I ask, is it granted?” 
“But the names you bear now are strange and mean- 
ingless,” objected Hector Shawn. “Why should we lis- 
ten to men who must perforce veil their true identity 
under an outlandish jargon?” 

“I think I can enlighten you as to that, Hector,” inter- 
posed the gentle voice of Felice Mincheau. “These 
names are perhaps an allegory. They are taken from 
ancient Greek mythology. Enceladus was a giant who 
was buried beneath Mount Etna as a punishment for 
ambition. Aesculapius was the god of medicine and 
surgery. As for Prometheus, he was a young man who 
attempted to steal fire from heaven.” 

Shawn nodded his head thoughtfully. 

“It is well, Prometheus, Aesculapius and Enceladus,” 
he rumbled. “The Three will hear your message and 
withhold judgment until that message is complete. 
Your petition is granted. Are the Three in accord?” 
and he gave the sign of the Triangle, to which the 
other two duly responded. 

“Be seated!” commanded Shawn, and when the three 
men had complied, “Speak, friend Prometheus, who 
aspires to bring fire from Heaven ! Tsen Sheng, record.” 
“It is unnecessary,” began Ralph, “for me to remind 
the Three of the commercial and social upheaval which 
threatens the world as the result of the disease which 
has destroyed the iron deposits. Tsen Sheng has told 
us that even the salvaged ore has contracted the dis- 
ease. Indeed we were already aware of this, though it 
was not an accident, as you suppose, but the deliberate 
work of an enemy. 

“TT 7"E feel that the Three would be remiss in the 
VV performance of their duty as Servants of the 
World, if they neglected any means by which the catas- 
trophe may be averted. If, for example, some man came 
to you and revealed the existence of a hitherto undis- 
covered supply of iron, so vast in extent that it would 
supply all the needs of mankind for thousands of years, 
you would gladly accept his offer of help and would 



482 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



place at his disposal every facility to open up the new 
body of ore. Am I right?” 

“You are right. Proceed,” Shawn said. 

“We have discovered such a supply,” announced Ralph, 
rising to his feet and pointing upward to the clear, star- 
gemmed night sky. “Servants of the World, what do 
you see spanning the heavens like a mist of light?” 

“It is the Milky Way,” replied Kanzo Singh, wonder- 
ingly. 

“Look where the countless stars of. the Galaxy clus- 
ter thickest in the zenith. Again, what do you see?” 

“We see a circle of darkness, like a black hole,” said 
the Hindoo. 

“Watch closer!” commanded Ralph. 

There was a long silence as all eyes were turned up 
to that inky disc. Then Kanzo Singh burst out into a 
cry of amazement. 

“By the All Wise, it moves ! It moves !” 

“Servants of the World,” Ralph said, his low voice 
tense with emotion, “that black moving spot is a globe 
of solid iron. Like the moon, it is a satellite of the 
earth, but unlike the moon it is comparatively close. 
There, in the sky are countless millions of tons of un- 
tainted iron to replace the ore we have lost. To tell 
you of this inexhaustible supply we have come to seek 
this audience with the Three.” 

In the dim light from hidden lamps among the trees 
Ralph watched the varied emotions upon the faces of 
his listeners, as he made his announcement. Hector 
Shawn knitted his brows in anger. Felice Mincheau 
looked at him with a glance of mingled pity and won- 
der. Kanzo Singh, the mystic, alone of the Three, 
maintained his expression of grave attention. It was he 
who spoke. 

“I begin to understand the significance of your name, 
Friend Prometheus,” he said, a faint smile twitching 
the corners of his mobile lips. “We will pass over the 
extreme improbability of your statement. The wise 
men of old have told us nothing of a second moon, there- 
fore, no such body can exist. Nevertheless, for the 
sake of argument, we will accept your wild story. Now 
tell us how you propose to emulate your ancient name- 
sake and bring this mass of iron down from the 
Heavens.” 

The critical moment had come, the moment which 
would spell failure or success. For an instant Ralph 
hesitated and when he spoke, he made no immediate 
reply to Kanzo Singh’s satirical enquiry. 

“Do the Three remember that when I came to the 
Ironmaster’s meeting under the name of Ralph Morton, 
I ventured to suggest that science might provide a rem- 
edy for the fatal iron disease ? At that time my sugges- 
tion was made without definite knowledge. The Three 
condemned it as heresy — contrary to the established 
belief that science was a thing complete, a body of wis- 
dom handed down from the great men of the past. 

“Since then I have dared to break with the traditions 
of centuries and sought to add to our knowledge of 
science, with the object of averting this world catas- 
trophe. With the help of the All Wise and of my friend 
who calls himself ADsculapius, I have succeeded. It 
was he who told me of the Dark Star with its boundless 
stores of iron. Through an accident, I was enabled to 
solve the problem of rendering this iron available. I 
have visited the Rebels, those mysterious heretical scien- 
tists, in their City of Eternal Calm, and they have 
approved of my discovery. Let the Three discard their 
prejudices against scientific research and these Rebels 
will concentrate all their vast knowledge and resources 
upon carrying out my plan.” 

Hector Shawn’s brow was like a thunderstorm, but 
his voice was low. 



"Once we forgave your heresy, deeming that your 
youth excused you. This time there is no forgiveness, 
either for you or your companions. We will hear no 
more. You shall be imprisoned for life, lest your ac- 
cursed beliefs, if indeed you really believe such a farago 
of nonsense, defile others.” 

Ralph sat back in his chair, stunned. How had he 
ever dared to nourish a hope that he could overcome the 
deep-rooted beliefs of the Three? But before he could 
gather himself for one last protest, the little Japanese 
doctor was on his feet. 

“Servants of the World!” he cried. “We invoke the 
Law of the Triangle!” 

“The Law of the Triangle is for all alike,” responded 
Kanzo Singh, his voice dangerously smooth, “but I fail 
to see how it can be applied in this case.” 

“Hearken and learn!” declaimed the little Doctor 
and it seemed to Ralph that his stature increased until 
he towered above them all. “ ‘Equal opportunities to all 
and to each the full reward of his accomplishment.’ 
That is the base of the Triangle! In every age the 
World has forged its own chains, the chains which 
have fettered the limbs of the Race and held it back 
on the pathway of infinite progress. In past ages men 
were tied down by stupid social and religious conven- 
tions. Today we have shaken off these conventions, only 
to replace them with the equally ridiculous and cruel 
bonds of Scientific Prejudice. 

“What are the Three that they should dare to limit 
the boundaries of the Truth’ Would you usurp the 
throne of the All Wise and say to mankind, ‘Thus far 
shalt thou go and no further!’? It was not alone ma- 
terial things of which David Windsor spoke when he 
gave us the Law of the Triangle. In the name of the 
Rebels we demand those equal opportunities to all which 
the Law provides; equal opportunities in thought and 
belief as well as in deed. 

“Servants of the World, you stand at the parting of 
the ways. Cast aside your worthless prejudices against 
science and men will bless you as the forerunners of 
an era of progress such as you cannot dream of. Re- 
fuse to listen to our demands, and generations to come 
will curse the names of Hector Shawn, Kanzo Singh 
and Felice Mincheau, who condemned them to centuries 
of Vabw: awA rathe* thaw give m? one iota of 

their narrow, hidebound beliefs. I have spoken! Let 
the Three answer, if they can!” 

D URING this tirade, Ralph had sat with downcast 
eyes and clenched hands, powerless to interrupt 
the torrent of words which he felt was only serving to 
seal their fate. When he ventured to look up, it was to 
find no sign of the storm which he anticipated. The 
thunder cloud had passed away from Hector Shawn’s 
brow, there was an expression of benignancy on Kanzo 
Singh’s austere features, and Felice Mincheau was 
smiling. 

It was not the custom of the Three to confer in the 
presence of others. The Age of Social Enlightenment 
had produced a spirit of mutual understanding which 
had largely done away with the endless bickering and 
wrangling of legislators in the past. In the Three, 
constantly associated for ten years, this spirit found 
its highest expression in a species of telepathy which 
made discussion unnecessary. 

When Felice Mincheau spoke, therefore, it was with 
authority, knowing that she voiced the opinions of her 
associates. 

“The Three loves courage,” she said, softly, “and re- 
wards courage even though it may be the outcome of 
misguided enthusiasm. Let the young man, Prometheus, 
tell us his plan. We will hear him because he and his 
friends are brave, not because our minds are swayed 



r A MODERN PROMETHEUS 483 



by what the old man iEsculapius has cast in our teeth. 
Are the Three in accord?” 

Quietly and without heroics, Ralph told the story of 
the Hanging Workshop in the Rockies. He told how he 
and Geoffrey Von Elmar had isolated themselves from 
their fellow men because of their firm conviction that 
the time was at hand for science to resume her upward 
march. He spoke of the coming of Dr. Ota Umetaro 
and described the rescue of Lotus from the bergschrund 
in the glacier. Passing over the dramatic advent of 
Kana, he spoke of the discovery of florium. 

“Centuries ago,” he went on, “wise men found that 
all things were divisible into certain elementary sub- 
stances. It is true that later it was found that all 
these elements are the result of atomic groupings of 
electrons, but it is none the less true that the ar- 
rangements of the electrons are governed by a progres- 
sive law. In geometry, we subdivide plane figures into 
triangles, squares, pentagons, hexagons, according to 
the number of their sides, although all are bounded by 
the same straight lines. In a similar way the elements 
follow one another according to the complexity of their 
structure. 

“At the close of the scientific era, there was one ele- 
ment in the series which had not been isolated. It is 
this element which my friends and I have discovered 
and have named florium. It is this element whose ex- 
traordinary properties will make accessible the bound- 
less stores of iron in the Dark Star. What these prop- 
erties are, I will now demonstrate.” 

Taking the case which Kana had brought, he opened 
it and produced a light metal tripod. Having erected 
this in an open space, he clamped the little bar of 
florium to the top. As the new element shed its weird 
violet radiance over the scene, even the Three were 
stirred to expressions of admiration. 

Ralph handed to Kana a ball of iron, weighing per- 
haps ten pounds. The Negro walked away to a dis- 
tance of a hundred yards and placed the iron globe 
upon the ground. In the meantime, Ralph took a piece 
of insulated wire and having wound it two or three 
times around the florium bar, he attached the ends to 
the terminals of a tiny electric battery. 

“Watch the iron ball!” he said. 

For several seconds nothing happened. Then it 
stirred, hesitated, started to roll towards them. Mov- 
ing very slowly at first, it gathered speed. At a dis- 
tance of about ten yards from the tripod, the ball left 
the ground and soaring upward in a graceful curve, 
struck the end of the florium bar, where it hung quiv- 
ering, like an orange stuck on the point of a needle! 
Ralph disconnected a wire from the battery and the 
iron ball fell to the ground. 

The Three gazed wonderingly from Ralph to the glow- 
ing bar of florium. 

“We have seen your demonstration, friend Prome- 
theus,” said Shawn, a new respect in his deep voice. 
“Tell us, what does it mean?” 

“It means that in florium we have a metal whose 
magnetic properties are so much in excess of anything 
previously known, that so far we have been unable to 
measure it. When a current of electricity passes 
through a coil of wire, a magnetic force, known as a 
‘field,’ is produced. The strength of this field is de- 
* pendent upon a property of the substance which occu- 
pies the interior of the coil. This property is called 
‘permeability’ which may be defined as the susceptibil- 
ity of a substance to magnetization. The permeability 
of air is taken as unity, that of iron may run as high 
as several thousands, meaning that with a certain cur- 
rent running through a coil, the presence of an iron 
core in the coil will increase the strength of the mag- 
netic field several thousand times. 



“Florium possesses a permeability which can be meas- 
ured only in billions. It also has a tendency to crystal- 
lize in long fibres, something like asbestos. The mag- 
netic lines of force are parallel to these fibres, so that 
it appears to issue from the ends of a bar in the form 
of a narrow ray, instead of spreading in a fan, as in 
the case of iron. 

“Beneath the glacier is a great bed of florium ore. 
We propose to excavate this ore, reduce it to the metallic 
state and erect a great tower of florium. We will sur- 
round this tower with copper cables, through which 
will pass the current from huge generators, thus con- 
verting the tower into a gigantic electro-magnet of in- 
conceivable power. When the Dark Star passes across 
the zenith, the current will be turned on. Thus, little 
by little, our tiny satellite will be drawn from its orbit 
until it finally comes to rest upon the surface of the 
earth. So shall the Dark Star attain its final destiny, 
to serve the needs of mankind for centuries to come!” 
Upon the faces of the Three, amazement was mingled 
with doubt. From the very dawn of astronomy men 
had dreamed of interplanetary flight, but here was a 
man who calmly proposed to reach out and pluck a star 
from its orbit and carve it into fragments to house and 
clothe the peoples of the world ! Small wonder that the 
Three, versed as they were in the wisdom of the ages, 
hesitated to believe the possibility of so fantastic a 
scheme ! 

T HE pause was broken by Kana, He rose and stood 
before the Three, his mighty arms stretched above 
his head, his eyes rolled up until hardly more than the 
whites were visible. 

“Hearken! Hearken unto Kana, the black man,” he 
cried. “Hearken unto Kana who speaks the truth; 
Kana, who, like Enceladus, was buried beneath a moun- 
tain of evil. These, my friends, have removed the 
mountain and Kana is free. For this Kana owes a debt. 
Now, it comes into Kana’s mind that he will be called 
upon to pay that debt, yea, before yonder Dark Star 
has sunk below the horizon. Therefore, hearken, for; 
when Kana has spoken, he will speak no more ! 

“Think well, 0 Three, before you reject the help we 
have come to offer, for if, in your blindness, you say: 
‘Science! We will have none of it!’ there are others 
whose sight is keener than yours, who will use this same 
science to destroy you. Clifford Weatherby, he whom 
you have banished, he whom once I called The Master, 
even now plots to hurl you from* your seats and reign 
alone as Emperor of the World. Twice already he has 
sought to slay my friends, lest they rescue the World 
from his grasp. 

“Know, 0 Three, that the disease which has destroyed 
your iron mines was not an accident. It was Weather- 
ly’s chemists who discovered the disease. It was 
Weatherby’s tools, of whom I was one, who planted the 
germs in the shafts and tunnels. It was Weatherby’s 
agents who poisoned the untainted ore which you had 
saved. 

“Weatherby’s mine alone escaped. There alone in all 
the earth, was the ore untainted. To Weatherby, the 
possession of this mine meant wealth and power be- 
yond the dreams of avarice. He planned to wait until 
the Three were in despair and then to come forward as 
the saviour of the world. Borne upward on a wave of 
popular approval, he hoped to be enthroned as Supreme 
Lord of the Earth. 

“But Kana, the slave he despised, has foiled his plot. 
One night, when his friends were sleeping, he left the 
workshop in the mountains and flew to the Weatherby 
Mine. Creeping past the guards, he dropped pieces of 
the diseased ore into the shafts.. Today, the last iron 
deposit on earth has been wiped out. 



484 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Weatherby’s hopes are crushed, but his insane 
hatred and desire for revenge have risen from the 
ashes of his baffled ambition. Now, now he is plotting 
to destroy you all! Even now, perchance, he hears 
Kana’s voice and Kana tells him that his time is at 
hand. Not the Phoenix of revenge and evil shall rise 
from the flames of Clifford Weatherby’s ambitions, but 
the soaring Eagle of Science reborn; reborn to lead 
the world to infinite heights of knowledge and happi- 
ness. 

“It is enough! Kana has spoken!” 

With clenched teeth and glaring eyes, the Negro 
stumbled to his chair and sank down shuddering, his 
face buried in his hands. 

“Friends,” said Hector Shawn, and some of Kana’s 
emotion echoed in his deep voice, “tonight we have seen 
and heard strange, well-nigh incredible things. If in- 
deed this man who calls himself Kana speaks the truth, 
it seems that the All Wise has given us a new command 
and that the time has come for change. 

“Now we will sleep. Tsen Sheng will see to your 
comfort in all things. Tomorrow, at ten o’clock, the 
Board of Control will meet and decide. Tsen Sheng 
will bring you to hear the decision. I have spoken. 
Are the Three in accord?” 

The Three rose, made the Sign of the Triangle, and 
bowed courteously. The Audience was at an end. 

The three friends had done what they could. Success 
or failure lay in the hands of the All Wise. Yet (so 
strange and wonderful are His ways), one more inci- 
dent was to mark the close of that eventful day and de- 
termine the outcome of the whole matter. 

As they left the Three, Ralph was a little ahead, fol- 
lowed closely by Kana, carrying the case of apparatus. 
Dr. Umetaro came last. In this order they approached 
the entrance to the grove, which was marked by two 
great palms, like the huge, natural pillars of a gateway. 

Just as Ralph was about to step between these trees, 
he was startled by an exclamation from Kana. Next 
moment he was flung back by a sweep of a mighty arm. 
Burdened by the heavy metal case and overbalanced 
by his sudden movement, the Negro stumbled and fell 
forward into the shadows directly between the palm 
trees. As he staggered back, Ralph was dimly con- 
scious of a flash, like a filament of crimson fire. There 
was a hideous shriek of mortal agony. 

Then, darkness and silence. 

A beam of light from Dr. Umetaro’s pocket flashlight 
stabbed the gloom. It rested upon the body of Kana, 
lying with outspread arms. There was something un- 
natural in the posture of that still figure. With a thrill 
of uncontrollable horror, Ralph realized that Kana’s 
head was lying apart from his body, severed as though 
by the sweep of a razor-sharp sword! 

It was the Doctor who restrained Ralph from rush- 
ing forward. The Japanese raised the beam of his 
flashlight and the mechanism which had wrought 
Kana’s death stood revealed in all its hideous simplicity. 

A fine, metallic wire had been stretched between the 
trees about five feet from the ground. At one end, the 
wire was attached to a tiny switch in such a way that 
the slightest pressure on any part of the wire would 
close the contact. Current was supplied to the wire by 
means of a battery, hidden in the grass. 

What mysterious instinct apprised Kana of danger, 
no one will ever know, for the wire was quite invisible 
in the darkness. Suffice it that he felt the presence of 
some evil which threatened the man he worshipped. As 
he fell, his throat encountered the wire and closed 
the switch. In an instant, the metal thread was heated 
to incandescence by the passage of the current. 

Kana had paid his debt! 

With a jerk, the Doctor broke the connections from 



the battery and tore off the fatal wire, sticky with the 
life-blood of a brave man. He turned to the Three, who, 
drawn by Kana’s death cry, were standing in silent awe 
in the presence of death, and pointing at the headless 
body — 

“Clifford Weatherby’s work!” he said. “Servants of 
the World, did Kana speak the truth?” 

CHAPTER XV 

The Oath of the Three 

T HERE is no more lovely spot in the Antilles, if 
indeed in all the world, than the island of Santa 
Lucia. There is no more beautiful structure, even 
to this day, than the Temple of the Triangle, the build- 
ing in which the Board of Control gathers to consult and 
decide the destiny of a planet. 

As its name implies, the Temple is three-sided. There 
are no walls, simply double rows of spirally fluted pillars, 
ivory and crimson ferrolith alternating. The capitals 
are united by a marvelously wrought entablature, the 
design of which is rendered singularly attractive by its 
variety. To one versed in history, this lack of uni- 
formity Is deeply significant, for each section of the 
frieze was the contribution of one of the old nations, 
and the whole is symbolic of that merging of national 
identity into one great world building which ushered in 
the age of Social Enlightenment. 

No roof surmounts the cornice, but filmy, semi-trans- 
lucent awnings can be draped between the pillars par- 
tially to shield the open court below from the intense 
rays of the tropical sun. 

The floor is of polychromatic ferrolith, the infinite 
variety of colors interwoven, not in geometric tiles or 
irregular fragments like mosaic, but blending like the 
rainbow hues of a soap bubble at the point of bursting, 
or of a drop of oil which spreads upon the smooth sur- 
face of a pool. 

On the morning following the tragic death of Kana, 
each member of the Board of Control was in thon* 
place in the Temple, long before the hour set by the 
Three for the meeting. A tingling spirit* of unrest 
seemed to pervade the assemblage, as though in antici- 
pation of some unusual revelation from the presiding 
officers. 

If some human being from an earlier age could have 
gazed into the future and seen these men and women, 
members of the sole governing body of the World in 
the year 2200, how strangely they would have con- 
trasted with the parliaments and senates with which 
he was familiar ! In those days, the principal legislature 
of even a small nation comprised several hundred law- 
givers, chosen from their fellows by a process which 
might well be called “the survival of the unfittest,” as 
a twig is washed ashore by the heaving waters of a 
muddy, turbulent torrent. 

The Board of Control in the Twenty-third Century 
numbered thirty-four. In no sense were they “repre- 
sentatives.” All came voluntarily, because they felt that 
they had some message of helpfulness. All were equally 
welcomed. All had a voice in the discussions. 

Yet, there were discussions, but no “debates.” The 
passionate, party-ridden altercations of the old days 
were replaced by the calm, unbiased intercourse of 
friends, to which each brought thon contribution, as 
knowledge or wisdom prompted. Let the outcome be 
what it might, so that it advanced the happiness of 
mankind! When all had spoken, there was nothing 
even faintly resembling the “vote.” One of the Three 



*An old word, obsolete in the 20th Century, but revived 
later, meaning “his or her.” 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 485 



Bummed up the pros and cons of the matter under dis- 
cussion and rendered the decision of “The Three in 
Accord.” None ever dreamed of questioning these de- 
cisions, not because the Three possessed any special 
supreme authority, but because the sense of justice and 
logic had become so universal that the decision of the 
Three invariably coincided with the opinions of all the 
members of the Board. It was simply a matter of ob- 
taining all the available facts. The outcome was a 
certainty, just as the result of an algebraic formula is 
the same, no matter what mathematician performs the 
calculation. 

At the stroke of ten, the Three, headed by Hector 
Shawn, entered the Temple and advanced to the centre 
of the pavement. 

“Your wish, my friends,” greeted Shawn, raising his 
hand in salutation as the company rose. The Three 
parted, each taking a place in one of the angles of the 
floor, Shawn in the North, Kanzo Singh in the South- 
east and Felice Mincheau in the Southwest. Ralph and 
Dr. Umetaro, who had entered quietly in the wake of 
the Three, seated themselves in the background and 
prepared to listen with as much patience as they could 
muster. 

It was the French woman, Felice Mincheau, who rose 
to speak, and at first Ralph was puzzled to trace any 
connection between her words and his errand. 

“Many years ago, my friends,” she began, simply, 
“three men stood upon this spot and created a new 
world. Now, the creation of a world may be a simple 
thing to the All Wise, but to three very human men 
like Walter Ballantyne, George Windsor and Jose Pas- 
cano, the process involved labor and agony, the sweat 
of the brow and the sweat of the brain. 

“Nevertheless, all went well, for they had a message 
and the world was ready to receive it. I say that all 
went well, my friends, but they encountered one enemy 
who, like Apollyon, came very near to frustrating their 
best plans and casting them down into tho Valley of 
Humiliation. That enemy was science! 

“Men once regarded science as the Fairy Princess, 
the good angel leading men onward to an earthly Para- 
dise, but in the early Twentieth Century, just previous 
to the time of which I speak, science had prostituted 
herself to Mars, the God of War. The offspring of that 
bestial union was a brood of devils and demons such as 
Dante never dreamed of. Clouds of poisonous gases 
enveloped hundreds of young men, some of whom 
coughed out their lives in agony, some survived in 
misery. High power explosives were dropped from 
crude airplanes into groups of little children at play, 
rending them limb from limb, and spattering their in- 
nocent blood on the tear-stained cheeks of their wail- 
ing mothers. 

“I could continue indefinitely depicting the horrors 
of scientific war. In the Middle Ages, war may justly 
be said to have possessed a certain glamour. We can find 
in our hearts to forgive the needlers slaughter for the 
sake of the thrill which attended hand-to-hand com- 
bat, a thrill which we today can only guess at. But 
when science joined forces with war, the battlefield be- 
came a shambles. Men were butchered in exactly the 
same cold, unemotional spirit as cattle were killed by our 
carnivorous ancestors. 

“In those dark days, the days of the Last Great 
War, two words, now obsolete, were on all lips; — 
“camouflage” and “propaganda.” The former meant 
concealment by means of trickery or disguise ; the lat- 
ter, the art of training men’s minds in false beliefs. 
These three men, Windsor, Ballantyne and Pascano, 
faced with the problem of shackling the activities of a 
Frankenstein’s monster decided upon the use of camou- 
flage and propaganda. They cut the Gordian knot by 



Saying, in effect: ‘Science has eschewed good and 

sought after evil. We will have none of it.’ 

“ T T WAS Ballantyne, the scientist, who suggested the 
X plan which was to fetter the science he loved, for 
two hundred years. This plan was nothing less than to 
create an artificial veil of mystery, similar to the fog 
with which the priests of old surrounded religion. The 
theory we know as the Orthodox Body of Scientific Be- 
liefs was also Ballantyne’s work and the Three took a 
solemn oath to carry on an intensive propaganda to the 
end that the world might accept this false doctrine as 
a religious tenet. For it is a false doctrine, my friends; 
the greatest lie that has ever been foisted upon the 
credulous human race!” 

There was an uneasy movement and a subdued mur- 
mur amongst the listeners, as when, the first breath 
of an approaching storm ruffles the surface of a placid 
lake. Covert, half-ashamed glances passed from one 
to another. From childhood they had been taught 
that the one and only test of scientific truth was the 
sacred books of the wise men of old. Now this woman, 
with her quiet, confident voice, was pulling down around 
their ears the structure of their most cherished beliefs. 

If Felice Mincheau was conscious of the agitation her 
words produced, she gave no evidence of the fact. 

“From that day, my friends,” she went on, “the 
secret Oath of the Three has been passed on from 
decade to decade. As time went on, a new generation 
arose to whom the Orthodox Body of Scientific Be- 
liefs was a part of the world they lived in. They 
breathed it with the breath of life ; they drank It with 
their mother’s milk. It never entered into their minds 
to question the absurd doctrine. The need for propa- 
ganda had passed, but still each Three, when they as- 
sumed office, took the Oath. 

“My friends, the time has come to proclaim the 
truth. In this happy age, the danger which threatened 
the world in the days of Walter Ballantyne no longer 
exists. No longer will men turn the wisdom of the 
scientists to the destruction of their fellows. From this 
hour, science, purified and chastened by two centuries 
of imprisonment, is free to go forward, leading the 
world to infinite heights of knowledge and happiness. 

“Would you know what has occurred to cause the 
Three to break their oath? I will tell you.” 

Very simply, she told the story of Ralph Morton’s 
devotion to science. She spoke of the Rebels, living 
in seclusion and passing on the torch of learning from 
hand to hand through the generations. She told of 
Ralph’s fortunate discovery of florium and of his plan 
to capture the Dark Star and save the world from 
economic chaos. Finally she described Clifford Weath- 
erby’s hellish plot to reduce the human race to virtual 
slavery, and Kana’s death for the sake of the men who 
had, as he believed, saved his soul from the evil in- 
fluence of his Master. 

“It is to this young man,” she continued, “who re- 
fused to be fettered by the conventions of the world, 
to him and to his friends, that science owes her release. 
Prometheus, come forward, that the Three may thank 
you for what you have done!” 

Hesitatingly, his face revealing the stunned amaze- 
ment with which he had heard Felice Mincheau’s as- 
tounding revelation, Ralph Morton advanced to the 
center of the Temple. He looked around him, bracing 
himself to meet the horror and hatred which has ever 
been the guerdon of the heretic, the man who dared 
to think for himself. Instead, he found himself en- 
circled by kindly, smiling faces. In place of the storm 
he had anticipated, there was joy and sunshine. 

One cannot measure the mind of man with a worn- 
out, discarded yardstick. These people of the Twenty- 



486 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



third Century were inured to change. They were ac- 
customed to welcome with open arms any social trans- 
formation which was for the betterment of mankind. 
Their unfailing sense of logic enabled them to compre- 
hend the great need which had prompted the original 
Three to take their Oath and pass it on to their suc- 
cessors. Now, they felt no anger such as men in the 
old days would have felt at the overthrowing of a life- 
long belief. Instead, they rejoiced that new vistas of 
infinite promise had been opened for the delectation of 
men and women, and they honored this young man 
through whom the opportunity had come. 

Suddenly, the pause which had greeted Ralph Mor- 
ton’s appearance was broken by a movement from one 
side of the Temple, where a little group of spectators 
and visitors was seated. A slim, girlish figure in crim- 
son and gold, flashed across the floor and with a cry of 
“Raoul!” flung itself into Ralph’s arms and began 
kissing him enthusiastically. 

A tall, grey-haired man followed the girl, with more 
sedate steps, and clasped Ralph’s hand in his own. 

“Thank the All Wise, you have come back, Ralph!” 
the old man exclaimed, his voice broken with emotion. 

“My friend,” came the deep tones of Hector Shawn, 
“what is the meaning of this demonstration? Do you 
know this young man?” 

“It means,” replied the grey-haired man, his face 
wet with tears of happiness, “It means that your 
Prometheus is my son, Ralph Ballantyne!” 

CHAPTER XVI 

Loose Threads 

T HE Age of Social Enlightenment is past. Rather 
we should say, it has been superseded, as child- 
hood is displaced by adolescence, for it is hardly 
conceivable that we can ever return to the state of 
ignorance and superstition which prevailed in the Twen- 
tieth Century. Today, we are in the midst of a great 
period of interplanetary exploration and already the 
world has benefited immensely by intercourse with our 
friends, the Martians and the Venerians. 

It is only a little over a hundred years since the 
events we have been describing transpired, but already 
they are losing their outlines in the mist of the past. 
To our young men and women, the name of Ralph Bal- 
lantyne is scarcely more than a name; the capture of 
the Dark Star and the Renaissance of Science, events 
which they read of in books but having as little vitality 
as the Battle of Waterloo or the overthrow of the last 
Martian Theocracy. 

We have set ourselves the task of revitalizing those 
eventful days, to the end that the memory of Ralph 
Ballantyne as a living, breathing man, may not die and 
that our readers may realize something of the hopes 
and fears, the strengths and weaknesses which ani- 
mated the young scientist and his friends. 

Strictly speaking, this task is now accomplished. It 
remains to gather up the loose threads and weave them 
into a series of tapestries, each in itself a fragmentary 
picture, but uniting to round out and complete the 
story of Ralph Ballantyne, 

T HE first of these tableaux is set in the home of 
Kanzo Singh. The time is early afternoon, the 
afternoon of that day when Felice Mincheau made her 
remarkable speech. The Three are there, Ralph, Rose 
and their father, and, of course, the ubiquitous Dr. Ota 
Umetaro! 

John Ballantyne is speaking and his words seem 
strangely out of keeping with the tense emotion which 
marked the climax in the Temple of the Triangle. 



“I cannot for the life of me understand how Rose 
recognized you, Ralph,” he is saying. “Quite aside 
from the natural changes incident to ten years of sep- 
aration, I should never have known your nose! My 
dear boy, what on earth has happened to it?” 

Ralph burst out laughing. 

“John is referring to the fact that I had the mis- 
fortune to drop a large, hard rock on my unfortunate 
beak, during a mountaineering expedition,” he ex- 
plained to the Three. “My nose got the worst of the 
encounter. It was always a sore point with John; he 
thought it spoiled my beauty! The transformation is 
quite a simple matter, Dad,” — John Ballantyne winces 
and then smiles at the familiar appellation — “When I 
first met the Doctor in Denver, he performed a small 
plastic operation, with the result that I have returned 
to you with a proboscis of truly classic charm!” 

“You have told us of the finding of florium,” says 
Hector Shawn, “but you have not told us how you came 
to discover its remarkable properties.” 

“I was testing the various physical reactions of the 
new metal,” Ralph explains. “When I inserted the lit- 
tle rod into the coil of a permeameter, an instru- 
ment for measuring magnetic flux, I started a miniature 
cyclone. Every iron or steel object in the room tore 
loose from its moorings and started towards me! For- 
tunately, the sudden jerk on the florium bar broke the 
battery wires, otherwise, the Doctor would have found 
me buried under a heap of heavy hardware.” 

“You have spoken of the almost infinite permeabil- 
ity of florium,” Kanzo Singh comments, doubtfully, 
but, unless I am mistaken, permeability is simply the 
ability of a substance to conduct magnetism. How is it 
possible to produce such a gigantic flow of force with 
a small current? It seems contrary to the law of the 
Conservation of Energy. In other words, how can you 
get from a magnet more than you put into it?” 

“You are forgetting the element of time, Kanzo 
Singh,” Ralph replies. “Magnetism is a force, a ten- 
sion in the ether; not a continuous flow of energy. A 
trickle of water might, in time, fill a huge reservoir. 
The power of a magnetic field, or in other words, the 
pull of a magnet, depends upon the ability of the core 
to accumulate the lines of force from the encircling 
coil. Am I clear?” 

“Perfectly, my friend,” replies the Hindoo. “Your 
discovery, no matter what may be the ultimate result, 
is a marvelous thing. Nevertheless, the greater marvel 
is that you had the courage to cling to your ideals 
through all those lonely years before Dr. Umetaro 
came to join you.” 

“Oh! But I was not alone!” exclaims Ralph. “In- 
deed, I doubt very much if I could have stuck it out if 
I had not had the loving encouragement of my friend, 
Geoffrey Von Elmar.” 

As the words leave Ralph’s lips, Rose Ballantyne 
starts from her chair with a choking cry. 

“Ralph! Oh! Ralph, is it possible?” she gasps, her 
face deathly white. “Is Geoffrey alive and well?” 

Now it is Ralph’s turn to stare with amazement. 

“Of course he’s alive, Rose!” he says. “We shall see 
him tonight.” 

“Geoffrey, alive after all these years !” Rose murmurs, 
burying her face in her hands. “Oh! Don’t you un- 
derstand? He was the whole world to me and — I lost 
him!” 

John Ballantyne gathers the sobbing girl into the 
circle of his arms and stands looking over her head at 
the others with eyes half defiant, half ashamed. 

“I think there is an explanation long overdue,” he 
says. “I quarreled with Von Elmar — no matter what 
about. He said bitter things to me — things which 
turned me from a man into a raging beast. Not know- 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



487 



ing what I was doing, I picked up an old dagger which 
I kept on my desk for a paper knife. I struck him 
with all my strength. He made no attempt to defend 
himself. He stood there for a moment with the blood 
streaming from a ghastly wound in his face, his eyes 
filled with sorrow. I heard a sound and turned. Rose 
was standing in the door, looking at Geoffrey. Then she 
crumpled in a heap on the floor. I rushed to her. When 
I looked for Geoffrey again, he had gone. We never 
saw him again. I have greatly sinned, my friends. 
Thank the All Wise that He has given me the chance 
to right the wrong I did.” 

* * * 

T HE Crystal Chamber in the City of Eternal Calm. 

The many-hued light, pulsating faintly in the 
jewelled dome, illuminates but dimly the strained faces 
of the waiting Rebels. In the center of the floor stands 
a small pedestal, supporting a crystalline mass about 
the size of a man’s head. 

Seated around the pedestal are Lotus, Geoffrey and 
Frank Darwin. Each rests a hand upon the block of 
centrium, that strange substance which possesses the 
power to bring human minds into sympathy, no matter 
how great the distance separating them from one an- 
other. The face of Lotus Grenville, alone of all the 
assemblage, is radiant with hope; that of Darwin is 
grim and determined; alternate sunshine and shadows 
appear in Geoffrey’s expression, as his eyes stray from 
one to the other of his companions. 

Suddenly the tense silence is broken and the voice 
of Lotus is raised in a veritable paean of triumph. 

“They are coming!” she cries, starting to her feet. 
“They are coming! Ralph is wearing the Pathfinder!” 
“To the Entrance! They are coming!” 

The passageways are crowded with a surging mass 
of men and women, hurrying to the foot of the great 
shaft. Dignity is forgotten. The acquired patience 
of two centuries is cast aside. The quietude of Eternal 
Calm is shattered by wild cries and muttered exclama- 
tions of mingled hope and fear. 

All too slowly, the mile-high tube is extended until 
the expanding door opens above the surface of the sea. 
Yearning eyes strain upward to catch the first glimpse 
of the aerial ark which is bringing them deliverance. 
Swiftly as a falling moonbeam it comes, swooping down 
to settle as lightly as a wind-borne dandelion seed. 

The panel slides open and a young girl steps out. For 
a moment she stands gazing around her wonderingly. 
Then her black eyes come to rest upon the scarred face 
of the man she loves. 

“Geoffrey!” “Rose! My beloved!” and these two are 
clasped in an embrace which tells of the joyful reunion 
of long-parted lovers. 

Others are leaving the silvery space-flier. The're is a 
gasp of incredulous amazement as the giant figure of 
Hector Shawn appears, his arm around the shoulders 
of Ralph Ballantyne. Next comes Kanzo Singh with the 
little Doctor, whose slant eyes are puckered up in a 
beaming smile. And last come Felice and John Bal- 
lantyne, who clasps Geoffrey’s free hand and says, 
huskily: “Forgive me, my friend!” 

Ralph has eyes for Lotus alone and ears only for her 
whispered words of love. He is hardly conscious of the 
dead silence as Hector Shawn begins to speak. 

“You sent a messenger to the Three, my friends; one 
who called himself Prometheus. The Three have brought 
him back to you, bearing a gift of which he will tell 
you — the gift of freedom. 

“I am no prophet. Whether your Prometheus will 
succeed in his rash endeavor to bring down fire from 
Heaven, I cannot say ; yet I venture to predict that the 
time is not far distant when Ralph Ballantyne will 
wear upon his tunic the three-colored triangle of power. 



“Your associate, Dr. Umetaro, has shown us the 
marvels of the guiding jewel which enables you to find 
your way back to your City beneath the waves. You 
call yourselves ‘The Rebels.’ Henceforth, you shall be 
called ‘The Pathfinders’ and it shall be your privilege 
to lead the world to new heights of knowledge and at- 
tainment. Pathfinders, the Servants of the World 
salute you! 

“I have spoken. Are the Three in accord?” 

And the hands of Kanzo Singh and Felice Mincheau 
are raised in the formal gesture of assent. 

The night is far spent before Ralph escapes from 
the rejoicing multitude and finds himself alone with 
Lotus. 

“I knew you would succeed, my Lover!” he exclaims, 
proudly. 

“I am not sure that failure would not have been more 
welcome than success at such a price,” he rejoins, sadly. 
“Poor Kana! He adored you, Ralph.” 

“Yes, poor Kana ! Yet there is no question that his 
death awakened the Three to a realization of their 
duty.” 

They are silent for a space. Presently Lotus touches 
Ralph’s cheek caressingly. ■ 

“Do you remember, Beloved, my strange feeling that 
I had seen Geoffrey before? It all came back to me 
this evening when I saw him with Rose. I was staying 
with Rose at the Eyrie one summer — it must be five 
years ago. One evening we were walking in the gar- 
dens. Rose seemed distrait; her thoughts far away. 
Something — I don’t know what made me look back. 
Through a gap in the shrubbery I caught a single 
glimpse of a face — a face marked with a hideous scar. 
It vanished before I could draw Rose’s attention to it.” 
“So that is where Geoff went during his mysterious 
journeys,” is Ralph’s comment. “He used to go off in 
his plane and come back looking utterly worn out. I 
don’t see why he thought it necessary to break off his 
relationship with Rose. Su'rely he didn’t believe that 
her love depended upon his good looks!” 

“You silly boy ! How could he ask Rose to share his 
life when that scar on his face would be a constant re- 
minder of your father’s act?” 

Ralph ponders over that for a few moments. 

“Well — but — ” he says, finally. “The Doctor has sev- 
eral times offered to remove the scar and Geoff al- 
ways refused to have it touched.” 

Lotus smiles in her superior womanly wisdom. 

“It wasn’t the scar on Geoff’s face that kept him away 
from Rose. It was the scar on your father’s soul. That 
scar is healed now, thanks to my splendid lover!” 

“No, my Flower,” he replies. “Not thanks to me, 
but thanks to Kana.” 

* * * 

T HAT winter was a busy time for Ralph and his 
friends. The entire engineering personnel of 
the new-born Pathfinders devoted itself to solving the 
numerous technical problems involved in the great un- 
dertaking. The exact permeability of florium was de- 
termined by the physicists, while the astronomers meas- 
ured anew the mass, orbit and period of the Dark Star. 

By making use of these figures, the electrical engi- 
neers were enabled to calculate the various elements of 
the huge florium magnet with which they hoped to cap- 
ture the tiny satellite. The length and diameter of the 
florium core, the ampere-turns of the copper winding, 
the nature and thickness of the insulation; all these 
things were matters of vast importance, if failure or 
even serious disaster were to be avoided. 

It was not Ralph’s intention to create a magnetic field 
of such strength that the Dark Star would instantly 
leave its orbit and fall upon the earth, even if such a 
thing had been possible. The lines of magnetic at- 



488 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




Now it was not the steady, white radiance of 
the flood-lights, but a lurid, crimson corusca- 
tion in which the figure of Clifford W eatherby, 
one arm thrown across his eyes to shield them 
from the awful glare, stood out in detail. 



A MODERN PROMETHEUS 489 



traction would issue from the florium core in the form 
of two slightly divergent beams, one from each end. 
The direction and form of these beams being known, it 
would be a simple matter to turn on the current when- 
ever the Dark Star came into range; that is to say, 
twice in each revolution. 

Little by little, the fifty-mile ball of iron would be 
drawn nearer, moving faster In its orbit as it did so. 
Finally, when it had approached within a hundred 
miles of the surface, the full power of the magnet 
would be turned on. That would be the critical mo- 
ment. Hurling along in its new orbit at the tremen- 
dous speed of ten thousand miles per hour, the Dark 
Star must be brought to rest instantly. There was no 
room for error. Once let the Star escape from the 
grip of the magnet and it would pursue its course 
around the world, leaving behind it a pathway of death 
and destruction. 

Early May, a little over six months after Ralph’s 
eventful visit to Santa Lucia, found him once more on 
the balcony of the Hanging Workshop in the moun- 
tains. With him were Lotus and Dr. Umetaro, besides 
a large number of scientists, gathered together to wit- 
ness the first step towards their ambitious goal. 

The silvery ribbon of the glacier shone in virgin 
purity under its unsullied robe of winter snow, though 
here and there crevasses were beginning to open and 
the air was filled with the tinkling of innumerable tiny 
streams. On the opposite side of the valley, close to 
the point where Geoffrey had rescued Ralph from, the 
clutches of Kana, stood a small building, in front of 
which was a glittering structure like a huge search- 
light. 

Far away, below the glacier, was the great berg- 
sehrund in which Ralph and Lotus had first met. No 
sign of the chasm was visible under the universal 
mantle of white, but it did not need the pressure of 
Ralph’s hand or the slightly regretful glance he gave, 
to remind her that their strange sub-glacial meeting 
place would soon be no more. 

As they watched, a lurid ray darted from the search- 
light on the cliffs and, after wavering uncertainly, came 
to rest upon the site of the bergschrund. The intense 
whiteness of the snow darkened, changed to dirty grey, 
and, more quickly than it can be told, a tiny, blue lake 
had formed. Swiftly the lakelet widened, sent out 
streams which merged into a rushing torrent of 
mingled snow and water. 

The torrent spread over the surface of the ice until 
it filled the whole breadth of the valley and poured 
down over the tongue of the glacier in a raging cascade. 
Under the pitiless blaze of the heat-ray, a great pit 
was forming in the ice, a caldron filled with boiling 
water and fed by repeated avalanches which thundered 
down from the slopes below the pass, leaving a surface 
of grey, glistening rock. 

Two hours later the glacier was a thing of the past. 
Its ice-polished bed, hidden for, the All Wise knows 
how many million years, stood bare to the light of day. 
Down the centre of the valley for a distance of over a 
mile, a violet band of florium ore lay revealed, fluoresc- 
ing with a ghostly radiance, as the shadows of night 
gathered over the peaks. 

Presently, a plane settled in the landing cradle and 
Rose and Geoffrey joined the group. 

“Yes, it didn’t take long to spoil our valley, did it?” 
Geoffrey regretted. “Congratulations on your ray- 
projector, Olaf Ericsson. It certainly came up to our 
expectations. Thanks for letting me handle it.” 

“I wouldn’t worry too much about the destruction 
of your glacier, Von Elmar,” observed the old scientist. 
“In a few years you will be able to observe the forma- 
tion of a new one — a sight no human being has ever 



been privileged to witness. That ought to be some 
compensation.” 

“Lotus and I are leaving for the Pole tomorrow,” 
Ralph announced. “I’ll leave you in charge here, Geof- 
frey. Thanks to Ericsson’s Ray Smelter, you won’t 
find much difficulty in separating the metal.” 

“The ore bed is far more extensive than I had an- 
ticipated,” Dr. Umetaro commented. “Judging by the 
outcrop, there must be millions of tons.” 

“I must admit that I was a bit worried lest the ore 
in the bergschrund should prove to be just a pocket,” 
confessed Ralph. “Well, friends, shall we sleep? There’s 
plenty of room, although I fear the accommodations are 
somewhat primitive.” 

* * 

A SITE had been chosen for the great magnet, close 
to the centre of the antarctic plateau. A circular 
pit in the ground was substituted for Ralph’s original 
suggestion of a tower which was, upon more mature 
consideration, deemed impractical. With the aid of the 
Heat Ray, the ice was melted away over a considerable 
area, the resultant water passing away in the form of 
steam. 

The Disintegrating Ray, of which Dr. Umetaro had 
spoken when the space flier was almost destroyed by 
Clifford Weatherby’s depth bomb, was brought to bear 
upon the exposed rock, the atoms of which dissolved 
into their constituent electrons and simply ceased to 
exist. 

In less than a week, a vertical shaft was dug, three 
thousand feet deep and fifty in diameter. At a distance 
of a hundred feet from the surface, a deep groove was 
cut in the sides of the shaft. 

The next task was the construction of the winding. 
This consisted of a series of massive copper rings, split 
at one point and with the ends offset, something like 
the familiar “lock-washer.” These rings were piled one 
upon another in the interior of the shaft, which they 
just fitted. The ends of the successive rings were brazed 
together to form a continuous helix. Insulation be- 
tween adjacent rings was provided by means of a 
thick layer of spanelite, a synthetic substance invented 
by one of the Pathfinders. Insufer, the standard al- 
lotropie iron insulator, was no longer available in suf- 
ficient quantities. 

The huge winding terminated just below the con- 
centric groove and the lower end was brought to the 
surface through a small auxiliary shaft, bored for the 
purpose. 

While this work was being carried on in the antarc- 
tic under Ralph’s directions, Geoffrey’s smelting oper- 
ations were proceeding rapidly. Long before the wind- 
ing was complete, shipments of florium bars began to 
arrive. These were stacked in the center of the hollow 
copper winding, care being taken that the crystalline 
fibres should run vertically. Like the winding, the 
florium core terminated below the groove in the walls 
of the shaft. 

A series of steel bars was now installed above the 
completed magnet, to serve as reinforcement, and the 
remaining space filled with a mass of concrete a hun- 
dred feet thick, its lower edge locking into the groove. 

“I don’t quite understand the object of the concrete, 
Ralph,” remarked Lotus, who was watching the im- 
mense mixers at work. “Why did you not bring the 
magnet to the surface? Won’t the concrete interfere 
as an insulator with the lines of force, as you call 
them?” 

“To answer your last question first, my Flower,” 
Ralph replied, “there is no such thing as an insulator 
of magnetism, since magnetism is a strain, not a move- 
ment. Even the lower end of our magnet will act with 
equal strength, although the lines of force must pass 



490 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



through the whole earth. Of course, the pull will be 
only about one-quarter as great in that direction, since 
the Dark Star is twice as far away.” 

“But why use the concrete at all, Ralph?” Lotus 
objected. “One would think you were trying to hold 
the magnet down!” 

“That is exactly what we are doing, Sweetheart,” he 
responded. “You must remember that the attraction be- 
tween our magnet and the Star is mutual. If it were 
not for that block of concrete, locked into the solid 
rock, the florium core would shoot out of the winding, 
like a bullet from a gun, as soon as the current was 
turned on!” 

The power plant to supply the energizing current 
presented a puzzling problem, since it was absolutely 
essential that it should be protected from injury at the 
moment of impact. This difficulty was solved by melting 
another pit in the ice at some distance from the magnet. 
Radio-controlled collectors were installed in this pit 
and connected to the magnet by means of copper cables 
running in channels in the ice. After the machinery had 
been enclosed in a watertight casing, the pit and chan- 
nels were filled with water and allowed to freeze. After 
the magnet pit had been similarly treated, the antarc- 
tic ice presented once more an unbroken surface, no 
trace remaining of the elaborate mechanism which had 
cost so much labor and time to construct. 

* * * 

UT in the meantime, what of the world at large? 
And what of Clifford Weatherby? 

A passage from the editorial column of the Chicago 
Tele- Journal, a copy of which happened to come into 
the writer’s possession recently, answers these ques- 
tions more vividly than pages of dry description could 
possibly do. The paper is dated October 19, 2200 — 
18 o’clock edition, two weeks after the meeting in 
Santa Lucia. After touching briefly on the pronounce- 
ment of the Three abolishing the Orthodox Body of 
Scientific Beliefs, the editor continues as follows : 

“The Board of Control has every reason to be 
thankful that we live in the Twenty-third Century, 
not in the Twentieth. In those days, a Government 
which issued a proclamation declaring that the 
weather was not influenced by the changes of the 
moon, or that the act of walking under a ladder was 
a harmless procedure, would have been hooted out 
of office. Men’s minds were a jumble of prejudices 
and superstitions, and woe betide anyone who dared 
to suggest that Reason was superior to Precon- 
ceived Opinion! 

“Today, we are superior to such narrow beliefs. 
And yet, are we so very superior after all ? Is it a 
matter for congratulation that for two hundred 
years we have allowed ourselves to be led astray 
by a fable which would hardly deceive a child — the 
Fable of Scientific Orthodoxy? 

“The truth is that we were not deceived. In 
our hearts, we have never admitted that the scien- 
tists of the past ‘knew it all.’ We knew that the 
Three forbade scientific research; we trusted the 
judgment of the Board of Control and, as the sim- 
plest way out of a logical paradox, accepted the 
doctrine of Scientific Non-Progressiveness. 

“The destruction of this doctrine has brought 
no upheaval, either mental or political. We are 
like children who, having tired of playing at Make- 
Believe, put away their toys and turn their atten- 
tion to reality. The world is glad that a false 
dogma which it has never more than half believed, 
has been relegated forever to the dead past. 

“That is our diagnosis of the general feeling with 
regard to the pronouncement from Santa Lucia, 
and our impression is confirmed by the ever-increas- 



ing flood of messages of congratulation and relief, 
which come pouring in to the Board of Control 
from every Division on the planet. 

“Whether Ralph Ballantyne and his Pathfinders 
will succeed in their undertaking to capture the 
Dark Star, remains to be seen. Failure would not 
alter the fact that we stand at the foot of a moun- 
tain whose 'summit touches the heavens ; the Moun- 
tain of Knowledge.” 

Further on, there is a brief news item, headed: 
“Atavar Missing.” 

“A committee of the Board of Control visited the 
Weatherby Mines in Florida today. They found 
the place entirely deserted and the ore completely 
destroyed by the disease, the germs of which were 
planted by Wahkola Kana two months ago, in his 
successful attempt to foil the evil plans of his 
erstwhile Master. No trace was found of Clifford 
Weatherby, and it is believed that the Atavar may 
have taken his own life after his failure to kill 
Ralph Ballantyne by means of the Depth Bomb and 
the Incandescent Wire.” 

* * * 

T HE task was complete to the last detail, and the 
great florium magnet in its copper casing lay buried 
beneath the ice of the antarctic plateau. 

On the first day of Sol, 2202, a great company of 
men and women was gathered in John Ballantyne’s 
office, overlooking the Hudson River. It was late after- 
noon, but the room was in semi-darkness. At one end 
stood two large television screens, each displaying upon 
its surface a different picture. 

The lefthand screen w r as a vision of utter desolation. 
A circle of hummocky ice, brilliantly illuminated by hid- 
den floodlights, merged at the edges into Stygian dark- 
ness; the six-month darkness of the antarctic winter. 
Gusts of snow-laden wind howled in the outer gloom, 
burst through the barriers and scurried across the 
lighted circle, to be lost again in the blackness. The 
eerie hiss of the gale, distinctly audible in the silent 
room, gave an impression of such extreme realism that 
Lotus Grenville unconsciously shivered and drew her 
tunic closer around her. 

In the centre of the picture, where the light was 
strongest, was a black circle, enclosing a sheet of ice 
as smooth as a skating rink. It marked the site of the 
florium magnet which crouched a thousand feet below, 
like some sulking monster, waiting for the signal to 
throw its invisible tentacles into space and seize its 
victim. Involuntarily, Ralph thought of the giant squid 
he had seen in the ocean depths. 

The second screen showed the interior of a small, 
domed room, in which were seated two men. One of 
these, whose swarthy skin and refined features revealed 
his Maori blood, sat with his eyes glued to the lenses of 
a binocular telescope. The other was Dr. Umetaro. His 
hand rested upon the switch which would turn the cur- 
rent from a dozen of the world’s largest transmitting 
stations, through the buried transformers and thence 
to the copper helix of the florium magnet. This must be 
done at the moment when the Dark Star entered the 
narrow field of attraction. The observatory had been 
erected for this purpose upon the summit of Mt. Cook, 
or Aorangi, the culminating peak of the New Zealand 
Alps. 

The Doctor looked up from his intent watching of the 
chronometer upon the table and smiled. 

“One minute to go, friends !” he said, quietly. 

One minute to go and then — what? The hovering 
fingers of the little Japanese surgeon would fall and, 
in the act, would unleash forces of such magnitude that 
the solid earth might well be rent in fragments! A 




A MODERN PROMETHEUS 



491 



kind of breathless horror descended upon the silent 
company as they looked through the screen into that 
fatal room, half a world away. 

Thirty seconds more! Ralph’s eyes seemed chained 
by invisible bonds to that waiting figure in the far-away 
observatory. His whole being was concentrated on 
those hovering yellow fingers. Dimly he was aware of 
a low humming noise which seemed to emanate from 
the other screen. Cloudily, in the borderland of vision, 
he was conscious of something that moved across the 
glaring circle of ice — moved and then was still. 

With an effort of will, he tore his gaze away and 
looked. On the glassy ice, in the centre of the black 
circle, stood a tiny plane. The cabin door opened and a 
man stepped out and stood staring around him, as 
though bewildered. At first, he had his back towards 
the televisor, but after a moment, he turned and Ralph 
saw a cadaverous mask, distorted in a grimace of hate, 
and a puny fist raised in a gesture of furious anger. A 
cry of amazement burst from Ralph’s lips. 

“Clifford Weatherby!” 

At the same instant, the Maori astronomer raised his 
hand and simultaneously Dr. Umetaro closed the switch. 
Immediately, the antarctic floodlights were extinguished 
and the screen was in darkness. Then came a dull, 
soundless thud, the tremor of a mighty planet as she 
stiffened her thews for a tug-of-war with her tiny, 
adopted satellite ! 

Startled by Ralph’s cry, wondering faces were turned 
to his. 

“It was Weatherby !” he exclaimed, in a hushed voice. 
“I saw him there — in the other screen — right over the 
pole of the magnet. He landed from a plane — alone. 
He stood there grinning and shaking his fist at the 
sky. Do you suppose he’s — mad?” 

Where had the would-be Emperor hidden himself 
after the collapse of his schemes? What wild notion 
had drawn him to that desolate spot at the very instant 
when the florium magnet leaped into life? Was he put- 
ting into force one last, desperate attempt to baffle his 
enemies or was he indeed, as Ralph suggested, mad ? 

Before these questions could be formed into words, 
the dark screen was lighted once more, but now it was 
not the steady, white radiance of the floodlights, but a 
lurid, crimson coruscation in which the figure of Clif- 
ford Weatherby, one arm thrown across his eyes to 
shield them from the intolerable glare, stood out in 
minutest detail. 

The heavens were a blaze of rushing fires as countless 
thousands of meteorites, torn from their age-long 
courses by the urge of the mighty magnet, came pouring 
down the lines of force and flamed into incandescence 
at the friction of the atmosphere. 

Hundreds of the larger aerolites won their way 
through the retarding barrier and beat upon the sur- 
face of the ice. The room was filled with dull roarings. 
For a few brief moments there was a glimpse of the 
unfortunate financier crouching, grovelling with up- 
raised hands in an inferno of flame. Then, dense clouds 
of swirling steam enveloped him and mercilessly con- 
cealed the end. 

* * * 

I T was winter again — winter in New York, but mid- 
summer at the South Pole, and once more John Bal- 
lantyne’s office was filled with a great company. 

Throughout the intervening months, at steadily de- 
creasing intervals, the florium magnet had hurled forth 
its imperious message to the heavens. Day by day had 
come the reassuring news from the observatories of the 
world ; news of an ever narrowing orbit, an ever acceler- 
ated orbital velocity, until now the Dark Star raced 



around the world in a period of little more than two 
hours, barely grazing the atmosphere in its mad flight. 
Today, a current of fourfold strength would be crowded 
into the mighty copper helix in the attempt to arrest 
that headlong flight — forever! 

A new televisor had been installed upon the summit 
of an adjacent mountain, to replace the one destroyed 
by the constant bombardment of the meteorites. The 
screen displayed an ice-plain, lit by the oblique rays of 
the polar sun and extending to the horizon. In the 
middle distance was a conical black mound, a heap of 
meteoric iron, beneath which lay the ashes of Clifford 
Weatherby, and the crushed remnants of his plane. 

The eyes of the watchers were fixed upon the northern 
horizon. Suddenly the shimmering border of the ice- 
field was cut by a convex arc of black. With appalling 
speed and overwhelming majesty, the Dark Star rose 
into view until its mighty orb filled half the sky, pre- 
ceded by a sea of shadow which swept across the ice 
like a tangible thing. 

Ralph’s hand descended upon the switch. It seemed 
incredible that any power of human making could stay 
the onrush of that flying mountain, that hurtling sphere. 
Yet, there upon the screen, before their eyes, the path of 
the Dark Star swerved, changed from an ellipse into a 
superb parabola. Three trillion tons of iron, the core of 
a sun, plunged in its last fall a hundred miles through 
the air and quivered to rest upon the frozen plain. 

The whole world trembled at that tremendous impact. 
Earthquakes, tidal waves and storms were experienced 
everywhere, but fortunately none was of sufficient mag- 
nitude to do serious damage, and, thanks to the fact 
that the event was anticipated, no lives were lost. 

When the earth had ceased from her shuddering, 
Ralph Ballantyne rose up and stood with his arm around 
the woman he loved. There was triumph in his glance 
as he began to speak, but Lotus had no eyes save for 
her lover’s face. 

“Servants of the World, the Dark Star is yours,” he 
said. “No longer need you mourn the destruction of 
the mines, for here is iron enough to supply mankind 
for a thousand years. My work is finished and at last 
I am free to follow the dictates of my heart. 

“Therefore, I, Ralph, do take Lotus to be my Com- 
panion, for so long as it shall please the All Wise to 
grant.” 

So he kissed her. 

L’Envoi 

T HE circling years have dealt kindly with' Ralph 
Ballantyne, leaving his youth and enthusiasm un- 
touched, while adding the dignity and wisdom and 
the poise of self-confidence which become him well. As 
he sits there in the northern apex of the Temple of the 
Triangle, he is the same Ralph we have known and yet 
different, for his face and manner bear the stamp of 
mature manhood. 

Close beside him sits the Companion of his life, in her 
eyes the mystery and calm of summer seas, her hair 
still radiant with the gold of fruitful wheat-fields. At 
her feet, his head against her knee, is another Ralph — a 
boy of ten, with his father’s clean-cut features and his 
mother’s serene, dreaming eyes. 

The Board of Control has been discussing the building 
of the first fleet of liners to ply between the Earth and 
Mars. This business concluded, Ralph rises and, with 
the sign of the Triangle and a resonant “Your wish, 
Friends!” dismisses the gathering. 

Lotus slips her arm through Ralph’s and leads him 
( Continued, on page 574) 




Black 



r J 1 HE title of homo sapiens may be deserv- 
Jl edly applied to man in this day and age — 
after endless wars and wasting of mechanical 
energy — but what mysterious secrets are still 
bound up in nature ! Some of these , if and 
when they are revealed, may release so much 
that is powerful and remarkable as to put our 
present-day amazing inventions into the dim 
background. And when all the mysteries are 
solved and all of nature’s forces are used, what 
then? Will the Universe continue in the self- 
same manner, forever unchanging? It seems 
a hardly logical thing to expect in this forever 
changing world. What tests man will be put 
to, and what obstacles he will have to over- 
come is still a matter for distant contempla- 
tion, perhaps, but our young author is impa- 
tient and must needs find ways and means right 
now. Exciting and thrilling things take place, 
but our old friends, Wade, Arcot and Morey, 
the scientific trio, are on the job, causing a 
quick ensuing denouement. 



Just as his projector at last came 
free, the ray hurled him . . . away 
from the men. 



The 



i 



492 







By John W. Campbell, Jr. 




Author of " When the Atoms Failed,” 
“The Metal Horde,” etc. 



T AJ LAMOR gazed steadily down at the vast 
dim bulk of the ancient city spread out be- 
neath him. In the feeble light of the stars 
its mighty masses of upflung metal build- 
ings loomed strangely, like the shells of 
some vast race of crustacea, long extinct. Slowly he 
turned, gazing now out across the great plaza, where 
nested long rows of mighty, slim ships. Silently, 
thoughtfully he stared at their dim, half-seen shapes. 
I cannot call Taj Lamor human. Earth had never 
seen creatures such as Taj Lamor. His species had 
never had the opportunity to develop on Earth. 

Yet perhaps that race had better reason to ap- 
propriate the term homo sapiens for its mem- 
bers than have we, for wise they were, with the 
age-old wisdom of uncounted seons. 



Illustrated by 
WESSO ’ 



The civilization of this race was an easy 
decline from vast heights of knowledge, of 
learning, of science. Theirs was a deca- 
dent race now. Long ages ago they had 
defeated their last external enemy. Their 
life had for long millenniums led them gently down from 
those vast heights, and through easy forgetfulness, and 
lack of strife, ambition had died; and with it had gone 
the incitement of adventure. 

It was for this reason that Taj Lamor’s task was so 
difficult when he tried to organize this great expedition. 

There had been a few men who felt the stirrings of 
a long-buried emotion, ambition, love of adventure, and 
these few were throw-backs to those ancestors of long 
ago, whose science had built their world. These men 
had had a mighty struggle against the inertia of ages 
of slow decline, and worse than all, the secrets of their 
hundred-million-year-old science had been lost. Slowly 
Taj Lamor raised his eyes to the horizon. Through the 
leaping curve of the crystal clear roof of their world 
there glowed a blazing point of yellow fire, a great star. 
So brilliant was it that it cast a distinct shadow of the 
watcher on the metal roof. Long Taj Lamor stood gaz- 
ing off at the bright point of yellow fire. He was re- 
viewing the events of the last few years, and perhaps 
the events of a million centuries. Perhaps there passed 
before his vision a pageant, a strange pageant that cov- 
ered the awful sweep of a hundred million years of 
civilization. 



493 





494 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



In the far, dim past, perhaps, he saw in space fifteen 
planets circling a small, red sun. On those planets there 
was no life. Only three were fit for life, but as yet the 
cosmic accident had not happened. Perhaps a million 
years passed before there crawled about on them the 
first beginnings of life. Then a hundred million years 
passed, and that first, crawling protoplasm had become 
a series of strange animals, plants and intermediate 
growths. Then more millions of years passed, and there 
appeared a creature that slowly gained ascendancy 
over the other struggling creatures that sought their 
places in the warm rays of the hot, red sun. That sun 
had been old, even as the ages of a star are counted, ere 
its planets had been born, and many, many millions of 
years had passed ere those planets cooled, and then more 
aeons sped by before life appeared. Now, as life slowly 
forced its way upward, that sun was old and nearly 
burned out. Those animals fought, and bathed in the 
luxury of its rays, for many millenniums were required 
to produce any noticeable change in those life-giving 
radiations. 

At last that one animal had gained ascendancy. It 
was the ruling genus. The last hundred million years 
had been entered upon now. The race of homo sapiens 
was rising to civilization. 

Before the eyes of the thinker passes a long line of 
struggling, semi-barbaric people who fought among 
themselves. First came stone buildings, the beginnings 
of engineering. With them came little chemical engines 
that would destroy them ; warfare was developing. Then 
came the first crude flying-machines, using clumsy, in- 
efficient engines. Chemical engines ! Engines that were 
so inefficient that one could watch the flow of their fuel ! 
One part in one hundred thousand million of the energy 
of their fuels they released to run the engines, and they 
carried fuel in such vast quantities that they staggered 
under its load as they left the ground! The first me- 
chanical flight ! After it, though, there came other ma- 
chines and other ages. Other scientists began to have 
visions of the realms beyond, and they sought to tap the 
vast reservoirs of Nature’s energies, the energies of 
matter. 

Other ages saw it done — a few thousand years later 
there passed out into space a fragile, delicate machine 
that forced its way out through the void, and across to 
another planet ! 

Swiftly now, science seemed to leap up on itself, build- 
ing with ever faster steps, like some crystal which, once 
started, grows ever faster. 

And while that science grew swiftly greater, other 
changes were taking place, changes in their universe 
itself. Ten million years had passed before the first of 
those changes became pronounced. But slowly, steadily 
their atmosphere was leaking into space. Through ages 
it was gradually apparent. Their world was losing its 
air and its water. 

A GAIN science helped them. Their discovery of 
. space-travel machines had enabled their civiliza- 
tion to meet the scarcity of metals, but now their air 
and water were going. Water they could import for a 
while, but still it was disappearing. They must find new 
sources, and even the other planets were well nigh ex- 
hausted of metals. But their ten-million-year-old science 
aided them once more. 

Thousands of years before science had learned how to 
change the mass of matter into energy, but now at last 
the process had been reversed, they could change energy 
into matter, any kind of matter they wished. Rock they 
took, and changed it to energy, then that energy they 
transmuted to air, to water, to the necessary metals. 
Their planets took a new lease of life ! 

But even this could not continue forever. They must 



stop that loss of gas, for eventually the entire planets 
would slowly pass into the void. The process they had 
developed for reformation of matter admitted of a new 
use. Creation ! They were now able to make elements, 
things that had never existed in nature! They de- 
signed atoms, as, long before, their fathers had de- 
signed molecules. But even so their problem was not 
solved, till at last a new form of matter was made. 
This was clearer than any crystal, and yet stronger, 
and tougher than any metal known. Passing any light 
or heat ray, they could roof their worlds with it and 
keep their air within ! 

This w r as a task that could not be done in a year, 
nor a decade, but when all time stretched out unending 
before them . 

Three planets of the fifteen were of a temperature 
adapted to life, and one by one these planets became 
vast, roofed-in cities. Only their titanic powers, their 
mighty machines made the task possible, but it was 
done. 

Slow ages drifted on, and the pageant bore only a 
long tale of greater triumphs of science, and here and 
there came the story of awful wars in the void, when 
the population would be halved, and all space for a bil- 
lion miles about would be a vast seething cauldron of 
battling ships and deadly rays. Forces were loosed on 
the planets that swung even their mighty masses loose 
in their orbits, and equal or greater forces were op- 
posed, and the worlds rocked drunkenly in their orbits, 
pawns in the play of titanic forces that tore space 
itself with the awful play of its energies, and light was 
unable to pass through the distorted space. 

Then came peaces, always futile. A few brief mil- 
lenniums, then again the flame of war burst out, and 
space was again rocked with the warring of forces that 
dwarfed into insignificance the planets, and the stars, 
swinging them, helpless, in the grip of awful energies. 
But for each force an equal force appeared on the 
opposing side, and the worlds were readjusted. Yet at 
last they would end, and life would continue. 

But slowly, slowly there crept upon the Pageant of 
Time a darkening cloud, a slow change that came so 
gradually no man could see it, but only the’ records of 
instruments, made over thousands of years, could show 
it. Their sun had changed from bright red to a 
deeper, duller, red, and ever less and less heat poured 
forth from its surface. Their sun was waning ! 

As its fires of life died down, the people of the 
wheeling worlds joined in a lasting bond; they must 
fight the great common menace, death from the cold 
of space. 

1 IKE people huddling close to the fire as the cold 
blasts begin to blow, these men of long ago drew 
their planets closer and closer to the dying sun. Other 
planets were habitable now, and these others were taken 
possession of, and mighty roofs of the clear material 
were thrown over them. Life went on beneath, and 
above the sun was dying. 

A star cannot grow cool, but it becomes “closed,” 
shutting in its floods of light and warmth with a blanket 
of intangible gravitation. A star that is burnt out 
cannot cool down; it lacks the terrific stores of energy- 
needed to cool its substance, yet it lacks the energy 
to continue radiation. It cannot cool, yet it cannot 
give off any more energy as radiation. It must main- 
tain itself at a terrific temperature in space, which 
seems to demand a high radiation. Too tired to stop 
working! Paradoxical that may seem to us, but to 
those people it was deadly fate. Their sun was dying 
and their worlds were freezing. 

Within the heart of every' star there is a vast fur- 
nace where matter is converted into energy. The mass 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



495 



of matter is destroyed, and every gram of matter 
yields 900,000,000,000,000,000,000 ergs of energy, but 
this energy, radiated as light and heat, has all the mass 
that the matter had! That light has mass is easy to 
prove; it is easy to show its momentum, for it exerts 
a very definite pressure. However, the mass of light 
is so slight, to have a mass appreciably great so much 
light is required, that we cannot ordinarily detect that 
mass. We feel the heat first. 

In those furnaces of the stars, matter is destroyed 
by heat. It is heated here to a temperature of 40,000,- 
000 degrees centigrade. Such a temperature is incom- 
prehensible in ordinary life, for temperature is the 
measure of the kinetic energy of the molecules that 
make up that body, but at that temperature no 
molecules can exist. They would be flying about at 
such terrific speed that their collisions would crush 

them. So violent are these collisions at this tempera- 
ture that even the atoms are disrupted, and they are 
smashed, and the protons and electrons are sepa- 
rated. No other solar system could come nearer to 
ours than the orbit of Neptune— nearly three billion 
miles away from the sun — without disrupting the sys- 
tem. Similarly, no atom can come closer to its nearest 
neighbor than the orbit of its outermost electron. If 
this be knocked off, the atoms may approach more 
closely. This process of packing has been carried to the 
ultimate in the interior of stars, and the atoms are com- 
pletely stripped of their electrons. Atoms so stripped 
can, of course, be packed very closely. When we con- 
sider how empty an atom of lead is, we can begin to 
appreciate the density these atoms could reach when 
so packed. In the center of any star these conditions 
are reached. 

But now let us suppose that this star cools. What 
will happen to the atoms? The electrons, which have 
been stripped off, will at once fall back into their 
orbits, and the atom will again become its former 
bulky self, mostly empty space. As this happens, it 
must have more room. As it cools, it expands, and ex- 
pands enormously. 

As the center of a star expands, it must necessarily 
make room for itself by lifting out of its way the 
upper layers of the star. But these upper jayers are, 

then, being lifted against gravity. Work is being done. 
It was our original hypothesis that the star, which 
was cooling, was already burnt out. It has not the 
energy to do this work of expansion. 

T HE gravitational attraction at the star’s surface 
increases rapidly, till at last a new effect becomes 
pronounced. It has been pointed out that light has 
mass. Now, any light leaving the surface of the star 
must lift itself away against the immense gravitational 
attraction at the star’s surface! The result is that a 
condition is reached when the star has become so 
“packed” that no light can leave it! We have at last 
a body which is exceedingly hot, yet cannot radiate! 

Such a condition, the star of the system of Taj 
Lamor’s ancestors had tended toward. Through long 
millions of years they had seen the life die out of their 
sun. Through those long years they had laid plans, 
and they had built their cities, had roofed in worlds, 
so that they might heat them artificially. They had 
built mighty heating plants, furnaces that burned mat- 
ter, and warmed a world! Now all planets were alike 
habitable, and again the race expanded. They had at 
last reached a condition of stability, for never would 
conditions change again, it seemed. All external heat 
and light they received came from the far-off stars of 
the galaxy, the three hundred thousand million flaming 
suns that would never fail them ! 

And now the pageant showed only a black star, with 



fifteen black planets circling it in awful, eternal night. 
A system from which no spark of light shone forth. 

Yet now their advancement was not stopped. Steadily 
the race went on, progressing to their goal of all knowl- 
edge. They hoped that some day, somehow, they might 
escape these darkened, artificial worlds of theirs, but 
they knew that there was no hope, for the nearest star 
was over three and three-quarters light years off across 
the void. 

So, hoping, they waited on their planets, while their 
scientists searched. Then, across the field of this 
pageant of a hundred million years of history, came 
scientist after scientist, and the people waited, and 
lived. They progressed, did the scientists, but the people 
merely waited. The scientists that came in these days 
seemed less brilliant than the old-time students, and 
many facts were forgotten, for the scientists of the 
race must come from the people and the people found 
it pleasant to wait. The world was unchanging, there 
was no strife, and no need of strife. There was no 
need to move — their worlds were warm, and pleasant, 
and safe. They were quite willing to wait. 

And so the millenniums passed, and there were mu- 
seums, and libraries, and laboratories, but there were 
no scientists worthy of the name. It was easier, and 
pleasanter to watch the machines of their ancestors do 
the work. So skillful, and so sure ! 

And so they had rested. 

T HEN came a scene in that pageant that seemed 
different. For there was Space, and the infinite 
glories of the stars, and there was one star that glowed 
brightly yellow off there in far space. The star was 
interesting. Curious ones who still knew the meaning 
of adventure, true throwbacks, men who had that 
Divine gift of curiosity that marks the genius from 
the sheep, went to the museums and looked carefully 
at the ancient directions for the use of the teleetroscope, 
the mighty electrically amplified vision machine, and 
gazed through it. Now they saw a great sun that 
seemed to fill all the field of the apparatus with blazing 
fire. Here was a sun to envy! These men who still 
knew the meaning of curiosity, they wanted to be there, 
and they looked long at its brilliance, then turned 
the director a bit and saw that there circled about 
the sun a series of planets, seven they saw, but there 
were two that were doubtful, so small they were. 

Taj Lamor had been with that group, a young man 
then, scarcely over forty, but they had found him a 
leader and they had followed him as he set about his in- 
vestigation of the ancient manuscripts on astronomy. 

How many, many hours had he studied those ancient 
books! How many times had he despaired of ever 
learning the truth of those ancient scientists, and gone 
out to the roof of the museum to stand in silent thought 
looking out across the awful void to the steady flame 
of the yellow star ! Then quietly he had returned to his 
self-set task. 

With him as teacher, others had learned, and before 
he was seventy there were many men who had become 
true scientists, astronomers. There was much that 
these men could not understand of the ancient works, 
for the science of a million centuries is not to be 
learned in a few brief decades, but there was much of 
the forgotten lore that they had relearned. 

They knew now that that young, live sun, out there 
in space, was coming ever nearer to them, their com- 
bined velocities bringing the two bodies towards one 
another at over 100 miles each second. And they knew 
that there were not seven, but eight tiny planets circling 
about that sun. There were other facts they discov- 
ered; they found that the new sun was far larger 
than theirs had ever been; indeed it was a sun well 



496 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



above average in size and brilliance. There were 
planets, a hot sun — a HOME! Could they get there? 

When their ancestors had tried to solve the problem 
of escape they had concentrated their work on the 
problem of going at speeds greater than that of light. 
This should be an impossibility, but the fact that these 
men had tried it, seemed proof enough to their de- 
scendants that it was possible, at least in theory. They 
had needed greater speeds than that of light, for they 
must travel light years, but now this sun was coming 
toward them, and already was less than two hundred 
and fifty billion miles away! They would pass that 
other star in about seventy years now. That was 
scarcely more than a third of a man’s lifetime. In that 
short time they must prepare to move! 

The swift agitation for action had met with terrific 
resistance. They were satisfied, why move? And in- 
difference is the most crushing form of resistance. 

But, while some men devoted their time to arousing 
the people to help, others were doing the work that 
had not been done for many, many millenniums. The 
laboratories were reopened, and the pageant once more 
showed humming workshops as the different machines 
were tested. They were making things that were new 
once more, not merely copying old designs. 

Their search had been divided into sections, search 
for weapons with which to defend themselves in case 
they were attacked, and search for the real principles 
of their space ships. They had the machines which 
they could imitate, but they did not understand them. 
The third section was less successful. They were also 
searching for the secrets of the apparatus their fore- 
fathers had used to swing the planets in their orbits, 
to move worlds about at will. They wanted to be able 
to take not only their space ships, but their planets as 
well, when they went to settle on these other worlds 
and in this other solar system. 

Long years must be spent in erecting their cities, 
but if they could bring with them their old homes, 
they would have places to live in in the meantime. 
Through the ages their population had been dwindling. 
Fewer and fewer people had been born, until at last, 
there were but four of the original planets inhabited. 
These people must all be moved in the short period, 
while the two suns swung about each other, locked for 
a short while in the mighty embrace of their gravities. 
Could they move a world, it would be far easier. 

But the search for this moving was unrewarded. The 
secret of the space-ships they learned readily, and Taj 
Lamor had designed these mighty ships below there 
from that knowledge. Their search for weapons had 
been satisfied, they had found one weapon, one of the 
deadliest that their ancestors had ever invented, but the 
one weapon in which they were most interested, the 
mighty force barrage that could swing a world in its 
flight through space, was lost. They could not find it. 

They knew the principles of the driving apparatus 
of their ships, and it would seem but a matter of en- 
largement to drive a planet as a ship, but they knew 
that was impossible; the terrific forces needed would 
easily be produced by their apparatus, but there was no 
way to apply them to the planet. If applied in any 
spot, the planet would be torn asunder by the immense 
strain. They must apply the strain equally to the 
entire planet. Their problem was one of application 
of power. The rotation of the planet made it impossible 
to use a series of driving apparatus, even could these 
be anchored, but again the sheer immensity of the 
task made it impossible. 

They were ready to start now on an expedition 
of exploration! 

Taj Lamor gazed down again at the great ships in 
the plaza below. Their mighty bulks seemed to dwarf 
even the huge buildings about them. Yet these ships 



were his — for he had learned their secrets and designed 
them, and now he was to command them as they flew 
out across space in that flight to the distant star. 

He turned, and stepped into a little torpedo-shaped 
car that rested on the metal roof behind him. A 
moment later the little ship rose, and then slanted 
smoothly down over the edge of the roof, to drop 
swiftly straight for the largest of the ships below. 
This was the flagship. Nearly a hundred feet greater 
was its diameter, and its mile and a quarter length of 
gleaming metal hull gave it nearly three hundred feet 
greater length than that of the ships of the line. 

This expedition was an expedition of exploration. 
They were prepared to meet any conditions on that 
other world, no atmosphere, no water, no heat, or even 
an atmosphere of poisonous gases they could rectify, 
for their transmutation apparatus would permit them 
to change those gases, or modify them; they knew 
well how to supply heat, but they knew, too, that that 
sun would warm some of its planets sufficiently. 

T AJ LAMOR was to lead this expedition, for he was 
their foremost scientist and their ablest citizen. He 
had designed these ships, and they had shown them- 
selves a credit to their designer. Already many of 
them were in sei-vice gathering the materials of their 
world for transport. Now their great battle fleet of 
Space was ready to start. 

Taj Lamor sent his little machine quickly toward a 
great door in the side of the gigantic interstellar ship 
and lowered it gently to the floor of the huge machine. 
Quickly a man stepped forward, opened the door for 
the leader, saluting quickly as he stepped out; then 
the car was run swiftly aside, to be placed with thou- 
sands of other cars like it. Each of these cars was 
to be used by a separate investigator, when they reached 
those other worlds, and there were men aboard who 
would use them. 

Taj Lamor made his way to a door in the side of a 
great metal tube that threaded the length of the huge 
ship. Opening the door he sat down in a little torpedo- 
shaped metal car that shot swiftly forward as the 
double door shut softly, with a low hissing of escaping 
air. A moment and the car was shooting through the 
tube, then gently it slowed, and came to rest opposite 
another door. Again came the hissing of gas as the 
twin doors opened, and Taj Lamor stepped out, now- 
well up in the nose of the titanic, interstellar cruiser. 
As he stepped out of the car the outer and inner doors 
closed, and, ready now for other calls, the car remained 
at this station. On a ship so long, some means of com- 
munication faster than walking was essential. This 
little pneumatic railway was the solution. 

As Taj Lamor stepped out of the tube, a half-dozen 
men, who had been talking among themselves, snapped 
quickly to attention. Following the plans of the long- 
gone armies of their ancestors, the men of the ex- 
pedition had been trained to strict discipline, with 
Taj Lamor the nominal Commander-in-Chief, although 
another man, Kornal Sorul, was their actual com- 
mander. Taj Lamor told them what he thought the 
best action; these other men put it into execution. 

Taj Lamor proceeded at once to his Staff Cabin in 
the very nose of the great ship. Just above him there 
was another room, walled on all sides by that clear, 
glass-like material, the control cabin. Here the pilot 
sat, directing the motions of the mighty ship of space. 

Taj Lamor pushed a small button on his desk and 
in a moment a grey disc before him suddenly glowed 
dimly, then flashed into sudden life and full, natural 
color. As though looking through a glass porthole, Taj 
Lamor saw the interior of' the Communications Room. 
The Communications Officer was gazing at a similar 
disc in which Taj Lamor’s features were imaged. 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



497 



“Have they reported from Ohmur, Lorsand and 
Throlus, yet, Morlus Tal?” asked the commmander. 

‘‘They are reporting now, Taj Lamor, and we will be 
ready within two and one-half minutes. The plans are 
as before; we are to proceed directly toward the Yellow 
Star, meeting en route?” 

"The plans are as before. Start as soon as you are 
ready, Morlus Tal.” 

The disc faded, the colors died, and it was grey 
again. Taj Lamor pulled another small lever on the 
little stand before him, and the disc changed, glowed, 
and was steady, and now' he was watching the prepara- 
tions of leaving, as from an eye on the top of the great 
ship. Men W'ere streaming swiftly in ordered columns 
all about and into the great ships. In an incredibly 
short time they were in, and the great doors closed 
behind them. Suddenly there came a low, dull hum 
thr:urh the disc, and the sound mounted quickly, till 
ah the world seemed humming to that dull note; they 
were ready to leave! The w'arning was sounding. 

Suddenly the city around him seemed to blaze in 
a riot of colored light! The mighty towering bulks of 
the huge metal buildings 
were polished and bright, 
and now, as the millions of 
lights, every color of the 
spectrum, flashed over all 
the city* from small ma- 
chines in the air, on the 
ground, in windows, their 
great metal walls glistening 
with a wondrous riot of 
Sowing color. Then there 
WaS a trembling through all 
the giant frame of- the 
mrghty ship. In a moment 
it was gone, and the titanic 
mu.;; glistening metal was 
rising smoothly, quickly to 
the great roof of their 
world above them. On an 
even keel the ship climbed straight up, then suddenly 
it leapt forward like some great bird of prey sighting 
its victim, and the great mass was darting swiftly 
forward. The ground beneath sped swiftly back, and 
behind them there came a long line of ships, a great 
mass of metal that swiftly formed behind them. They 
were heading toward the giant airlocks that would 
let them out into space. There was but one lock large 
enough to permit so huge a ship to pass out. They 
must go nearly half around their world to reach it. 
On three other worlds there were other giant ships 
racing thus to meet beyond their solar system. There 
were fifty ships coming from each planet; two hundred 
mighty ships in all made up this Armada of Space, 
two hundred gargantuan interstellar cruisers. These 
ships were intended as cargo and battleships. They 
were well adapted for this interstellar exploration. 

One by one the giant ships passed through the air- 
lock and out into space. Here they quickly reformed 
as they moved off together, each ship falling into its 
place in the mighty cone formation, with the flagship 
of Taj Lamor at the head. On they rushed through 
space, their speed ever mounting. Each man seemed 
laboring under the load of three gravities and of four 
gravities as the ships flashed on at ever higher speeds. 
Taj Lamor watched his little speed indicator move 
across the dial. One hundred miles per second they 
attained before they passed out of the gravitational 
field of their little planet, and had gotten so far from 
their home, that its gravitation was negligible, and it 
was two hundred miles per second when they passed 
the orbit of the next outer planet. The pointer moved 



steadily on across the dial as the speed mounted ever 
higher. From two hundred to three hundred — then, 
before they left the outer bounds of their own system, 
the needle was wavering as it passed the 1,000 mark. 
Suddenly there seemed to leap out of nowhere another 
mass of shining machines that flew swiftly beside 
them. Like some strange, shining ghosts, these ships 
seemed to materialize instantly beside and behind their 
fleet. They fell in quickly in their allotted position 
behind the Flagship’s squadron. One — two more fleets 
appeared thus suddenly in the dark, and together the 
ships were flashing on through space to their goal of 
glowing fire ahead ! 

A thousand — a million miles they traveled over — 
and Taj Lamor was standing quietly at the window of 
his Staff Cabin, looking steadily out at the growing 
sea of flame. Already it was visible as a disc of flame. 
They had left their planet scarcely an hour ago, but at 
their present rate of 7,000 miles each second, that meant 
twenty-five millions of miles. 

Long the man stood gazing out through the window ; 
then he turned, and walked slowly to the door, and 

started out to investigate 
the ship. He was not the 
commander now, but the 
scientist, the one designer 
and creator of this thing of 
power and speed and might. 

H OUR after hour, day 
after day the ships 
flashed on through the aw- 
ful void, the utter silence 
relieved by the communica- 
tions between themselves 
and the slowly weakening 
communications from the 
far-off home. 

But as those signals from 
home grew steadily weaker, 
the sun before them grew 
steadily larger. At last the men began to feel the heat 
of those rays, to realize the energy that mighty sea of 
flame poured forth into space, and steadily they watched 
it grow nearer. 

Then came a day when they could make out clearly 
the dim bulk of a planet before them, and for long 
hours they slowed down the flying speed of the ships. 
They had mapped the system before them ; there were 
eight planets of varying sizes, some on the near and 
some on the far side of the sun. There were but three 
on the near side, one that seemed the outermost of the 
planets, about 35,000 miles in diameter, was directly 
in their path, while there were two more much nearer 
the sun, about 100,000,000 and 70,000,000 miles distant 
from it, each about seven to eight thousand miles in 
diameter, but they were on opposite sides of the sun, 
one well to the west of the sun, and one well to the east. 
It was decided to split the expedition into two parts; 
one part was to go to the eastern planet, and one to 
the western planet. Taj Lamor was to lead his group 
of 100 machines to the western planet at once, for this 
outermost planet was not of immediate interest, for it 
revolved at a distance of nearly 3,000,000,000 miles 
from its sun, and its temperature could be but a few 
degrees above absolute zero. Their crystal roofs would 
have to come first ere life could be established on it, 
and these would require time to construct. These other, 
warmer planets, were of more immediate interest. 

The great ships were slanting down over a mighty 
globe of water, it seemed. They were well in the north- 
ern hemisphere, and they had come near the planet first 
over a vast stretch of rolling ocean. These men had 




498 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



looked in wonder at such vast quantities of the fluid. 
To them it was a precious liquid, that must be made 
artificially, and was to be conserved, yet here they saw 
such vast quantities of natural water as seemed im- 
possible. Still, their ancient books had told of such 
things, and of other strange things, things that must 
have been wondrously beautiful, though they were 
so old now, these records, that they were regarded much 
as we would regard the stories of gods and goddesses 
walking on the Earth. 

Yet here were the strange proofs! They saw great 
masses of fleecy water vapor, huge billowy things that 
seemed solid, but were blown lightly about in the wind. 
And natural air! The atmosphere extended for hun- 
dreds of miles off into space, and now, as they came 
closer to the surface of this world it was dense, and 
the sky above them was a beautiful blue, not black, 
even where there were no stars. The great sun, so 
brilliantly yellow when seen from space, was now a 
brilliant globe of reddish-yellow. 

And, as they came near land, they looked in wonder 
at mighty masses of rock and soil that threw their 
shaggy heads high above the surrounding terrain, huge 
masses of solid soil that rose high, like waves in water, 
till they towered in solemn grandeur miles into the 
air ! What a sight for these men of a world so old that 
age long erosion had washed away the last traces of 
hills, and filled in the last traces of the valleys! 

In awe they looked down at the mighty rocky masses, 
as the titanic machines swung low over the moun- 
tains, gazing in wonder at the green masses of the 
vegetation, strange vegetation it was to them, for they 
had grown only mushroom-like cellulose products, and 
these mainly for ornament, for all their food was arti- 
ficially made in huge factories. 

Then they came over a little mountain lake, a body 
of water scarcely large enough to berth one of these 
huge ships, but high in the clear air of the mountains, 
fed by the eternal snows that thawed, and flowed down 
to it. It was a magnificent sapphire in a setting green 
as emerald, a sparkling lake of clear water, deep as 
the sea, high in a cleft in the mountains, the water 
of some long-melted glacier. 

In wonder the men looked down at these strange 
sights. What a marvelous home ! But they must forge 
steadily on now, they must find a place to land; then 
the men would be dispatched to investigate, and to 
map the world. 

Steadily the great machines proceeded, and at last 
the end of the giant mountain was reached, and they 
came to a great plain. But that plain was strangely 
marked off with squares, as regular as though plotted 
with a draftsman’s square. This world must be in- 
habited ! 

Suddenly Taj Lamor saw strange specks off on the 
far horizon to the south, specks that seemed to grow 
in size with terrific velocity; these must be ships, the 
ships of these people ! They would defend their home. 
Now, in this moment, Taj Lamor must make his de- 
cision. Was he to withdraw and let these people alone, 
or was he to stand and fight for this world, this won- 
derfully beautiful home, a home that his race could 
live in for millions of years to come? He had debated 
this question many times before in his mind, and he 
had decided. There would never, never be another chance 
for his people to gain a new home. They must fight. 

Swiftly Taj Lamor gave his orders. If resistance 
was offered, if any attack was made, they were to fight 
back at once, unhesitatingly. 

The strangers’ ships had grown swiftly larger to the 
eye, but still, though near now, they seemed too small 
to worry about. These giant interstellar cruisers were 
certainly invulnerable to ships so small; their mere 



size would give them protection! These ships were 
scarcely as long as the diameter of the smaller of the 
interstellar ships — a bare two hundred and fifty feet 
for the largest. 

T HE interstellar cruisers halted in their course, and 
waited for the little ships to draw near. They were 
fast, for they drew alongside quickly, and raced to the 
front of the flagship. There was one small one that 
was painted white, and on it there was a large white 
banner, flapping in the wind of its passage. The rest of 
the ships drew off as this came forward, and stopped, 
hanging motionless before the control room of the 
giant machine. There were men inside — three strange 
men — but they were gesturing now, motioning that the 
giant machine settle to the ground beneath. Taj Lamor 
was considering whether or not to thus parley with 
the strangers, when suddenly there leapt from it a 
beam of clear white — a beam that was directed toward 
the ground, then swung up toward the ship in a swift 
arc! In an instant there were a dozen swift leaping 
beams of pale red reaching out to that ship, and as they 
reached it, the ray that had been sweeping up to touch 
the ship, was suddenly still, and for an instant the 
ship hung still in the air; then it began to swing 
crazily, like the pendulum of a clock, and then it was 
swinging completely over — and with a sickening lurch 
it was speeding swiftly, and ever faster for the soil 
of the plain nearly five miles below. But in an instant 
it was over and there was a little crater in the soft 
soil. The ship had driven itself nearly twenty feet 
into the ground. 

But the rays had not stopped with the little ship; 
they had reached rapidly out to the other machines, 
trying to reach them before they could bring those 
strange white rays to bear on them. Their cruisers 
must win, for they carried dozens of projectors, but 
they might be damaged; they might be forced to stay 
here. They must defeat those strangers quickly. The 
rays were lashing out swiftly, but almost before they 
had started, all the other ships, a hundred in all, were 
in action, and the flagship was darting swiftly up 
and away from the battle; their leader must be safe. 
Below, those pale red rays were taking a swift toll of 
the little ships, and nearly twenty of them rolled sud- 
denly over, and dashed to destruction far below. 

But now they were in swift darting motion. The 
little ships, through their small size, were able to avoid 
the rays of the larger interstellar cruisers, and as their 
torpedo-shaped hulls flashed quickly out of the way of 
the rays, they began to fight back. They had been 
taken utterly by surprise. They were a little late in 
entering the battle, but they evidently intended to make 
up for lost time, for the little fleet of thirty-five 
ships went into action with an abandon and swift- 
ness that made the gigantic interstellar liners helpless 
through its very speed. They were in a dozen places 
at once, leaping as swiftly forward as sidewise or 
vertically. They dodged and twisted, unharmed, out 
of the way of the deadly red beams, and were as hard 
to hit as some dancing feather suspended over an air 
jet, except that here there was intelligent direction 
keeping them always in the least accessible places, and 
these pilots showed a positive genius in thinking up 
new ways of making their ships difficult targets. 

And if the pilots were skillful in avoiding enemy rays, 
their ray men were as accurate in placing theirs. But 
then, with a target considerably larger than the pro- 
verbial barn door, not so much skill was necessary. 
They had only to touch those ships, and they began 
to realize that size did not make them invulnerable. 

For these smaller vessels were the ships of Earth. 
The people of that dark star had entered our solar 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



499 



system quite unannounced, except that they had been 
seen in passing the orbit of Mars, for a ship had been 
out there in space, going slowly, steadily out toward 
Neptune, and the great interstellar cruisers, flashing in 
across space, away from that frigid planet, had not 
seen the tiny wanderer, which was slowly climbing 
its long way across the two and three quarter billion 
miles from Earth to Neptune. But he had seen 
those mighty bulks, and had sent his message and 
warning out on the ether, racing the mighty machines 
in, and going at a speed nothing can exceed, and few 
things equal, and the radio message had been a warning 
to the men of Earth. They had relayed it to Venus, 
and the ships that had gone there had received an 
equally warm reception, and were even now finding 
their time fully occupied trying to beat off the Inter- 
planetary Patrol. 

These ships were Arcot Molecular Motion director 
ships, ships that drew their power from the heat 
energy of the air around them. Out in space they 
were slow, for there was no heat, but in the planetary 
atmosphere, they easily matched the speed of the 
Interstellar cruisers. 

It was Arcot who had developed the principle of 
these machines not a full three years ago, and it was 
Arcot who had, with the aid of this principle, made the 
first interplanetary flight in the history of the solar 
system, going to Venus. The bonds of friendship be- 
tween the two planets had grown swiftly in those 
three years, and they were already linked by many reg- 
ular space lines. These ships made the trips as fre- 
quently as the relative positions of the planets per- 
mitted, but during the oppositions of the planets, when 
they were on opposite sides of the sun, they were neces- 
sarily discontinued. 

The principle of these machines was simple in theory', 
but it had taken much work to bring it into practice. 
It had long been known that the molecules of any warm 
body were in rapid motion. In a gas the molecular 
motion amounted to several miles a second at times, 
and this speed was always relative to the speed of 
the mass of the body. Should the molecules of any 
body all start to move in the same direction, at the 
same time, the result is, of course, that the entire body 
is moving in this direction. Arcot had developed a 
peculiar high frequency field that caused all the mole- 
cules influenced by it to move in the same direction. 
This field actually converted the heat-energy of any 
body into mechanical energy, the energy of heat, the 
random motion of the individual molecule, was changed 
into the ordered motion of the mass, and the 
energy was applied as desired. It could be made to 
drive a ship forward by merely putting such an ap- 
paratus on the sides, filling a small tank with helium 
or hydrogen gas, since the molecules of these gases 
move the most rapidly for a given temperature, and to 
the copper tank attaching copper fins which carried 
heat very well. These fins would pick up heat from the 
air about. The molecules of the gas are all made to 
move toward the forward end of the tank, and there 
they are stopped by the mass of the ship, which resists 
this impulse. The molecules are then standing still 
relative to the ship. But motionless molecules have a 
definite physical significance; they mean that the body 
is at absolute zero, and any one who has worked with 
very cold liquids, such as liquid helium, or hydrogen, 
knows to his sorrow that these very cold substances will 
collect heat from the surrounding air at an amazing 
rate. The effect is the same in the case of the helium in 
the copper tank; it is solidified at once, since its mole- 
cules are motionless, and immediately it absorbs heat 
from the air, as solid helium always will. This heat 
makes the molecules move once more, and they are again 



promptly brought to a stop. Thus more energy is 
abstracted from the air, and the molecules are again 
started moving. 

All this is repeated thousands of times a second, 
and the result is a steady hammering on the copper 
tank. This steady hammering is what we know as a 
gas pressure, and the pressure may easily amount to 
thousands of tons. The result is that the ship is 
rapidly put into motion, and the molecules tend to 
drive it ever faster. No matter how fast the ship goes, 
the molecules, in order to be “warm” must have a ran- 
dom motion of a certain number of feet per second. 
They will always want to go a little faster than the ship, 
so no matter what the speed of the ship, the accelera- 
tion will be constant. 

The power obtainable from these power-units was 
surprising even to experienced engineers. They were, 
by the very nature of them, ideal for aircraft. They 
could be made perfectly streamlined. The discs, or fins, 
which served to give the copper tank a greater heat 
absorbing area, were made sharp as knives, and they 
cut through the air with scarcely any resistance. Other 
power units, mounted vertically, made it possible to 
hold the ship level in the air without wings. These 
same units, mounted laterally, gave the ship even 
greater flexibility. 

A LL these features had been combined in the Inter- 
. planetary Patrol ships, ships designed to catch 
the speediest of the Air Pirates who had sprung up. 
These swift ships were easily capable of 5000 miles 
an hour, and at higher altitudes could make as high as 
20,000 miles an hour. 

The airplane was commercially non-existent now, 
for with the advent of these new ships, they had im- 
mediately displaced all machines using fuels. These 
ships used the absolutely free energy of the sun, as 
collected and stored by the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Planetary exploration had started almost as soon as 
the building of the first of the commercial molecular 
motion ships was completed, and the inventor of the 
device, Arcot, had, with his three friends, Wade, Morey 
and Fuller, gone to the planet Venus. Their work 
there, the aid they rendered in saving the two great 
nations of Venus from destruction at the hands of a 
tyrannical ruler, had helped greatly to make friend- 
ships more secure. 

Shortly after his return to Earth, other men in sim- 
ilar machines had undertaken the longer voyages to 
the other planets. The Moon had been examined at 
once, and the examination of Mars followed soon after, 
but the vast orbits of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and 
Neptune had made the trip so long, in the compara- 
tively slow vehicles, that these planets had not yet 
been explored. In the depths of space it was hard to 
find the energy needed to drive their ships, and their 
progress against the gravity of the sun was corre- 
spondingly slow. Further, the orbital velocity of the 
planets themselves was so great, that it became a real 
race to catch up with them. Despite the fact that the 
“year” of Neptune is equal to nearly 170 of ours, the 
planet actually goes with terrific speed in its orbit. It 
is the vast extent of that orbit that makes the motion 
of the planet seem slow. 

It was one of these interplanetary exploration expe- 
ditions that the people of the Black Star had encoun- 
tered, and it was their warning that told Earth to be 
on the lookout. 

Arcot, during his brief stay on Venus, had devel- 
oped the most powerful weapon that man had ever 
seen in this system. He had found a means of pro- 
jecting the molecular motion director field. This meant 
that anything touched by this projected field, or ray, 



500 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



would move in a direction controlled by it, for every 
molecule of any matter it touched was immediately 
sent with all its velocity in whatever direction the 
operator wished. The result could be made either very 
constructive or very destructive. Imagine the ease 
with which a workman could float a beam of steel 
weighing, perhaps, twenty tons, up through the air, on 
its own heat energy — energy which it absorbed from the 
air — to place it where he wanted it. To do this he 
need only have a little pack on his back that con- 
tained the necessary apparatus, a pack weighing less 
than forty-eight pounds in the commercial apparatus, 
and a small hand projector. Again, imagine the same 
workman, wishing to remove a hillock in order to make 
a roadway. He need only direct the beam upon it, 
and the entire hill would suddenly start with all the 
energy of its quintillions of molecules, straight into 
the air, and fall, powdered, on the ground about its 
original site; or he could remove it in small chunks. 

This was the commercial development. 

Imagine, again, a man who is bent on destroying a 
great ship — perhaps an interstellar cruiser. He need 
only direct his ray against the nose of that ship, and 
send the bow, using the energy of its own molecules, 
crashing backwards. It will suddenly leap back upon 
the rear and midships portions of the huge machine, 
striking them as though driven by some immense 
hammer, weighing millions of tons, and moving several 
miles a second! The result is obvious — utter wreck- 
age, a twisted mass of torn girders, broken plates, and 
bent beams. Nothing could resist it for the simple 
reason that, no matter how big it was, no matter how 
strong it was, it crushed itself with its own size and 
tore itself with its own strength. Size was no im- 
munity against this weapon, as the people of the Black 
Star quickly learned. They received a most hearty 
reception and a great send-off! 

The great interstellar ships were far too long, too 
clumsy to be maneuvered as easily as were their tiny 
opponents. They could only stand and receive. They 
found it most difficult to deliver even so much as a 
single blow, once those little machines got under way, 
for the interplanetary Patrolmen were skilled in ray 
dueling. Regular practice was held, using certain 
harmless rays to simulate the deadly molecular di- 
rector ray. Once they realized the menace of these 
rays, they kept carefully out of their vicinity. 

T HE battle was brief, for Taj Lamor, in his ma- 
chine high above, saw that they were outclassed, 
and ordered them to withdraw at once. Scarcely ten 
minutes had elapsed, yet they lost twenty-two of their 
giant ships in wreckages. 

The expedition that had gone to Venus reported a 
similarly active greeting. It was decided at once that 
they should proceed cautiously to the other planets, to 
determine which were inhabited and which were not, 
and to determine the chemical and physical conditions 
on each. 

The ships formed again out in space, the other side 
of the sun, however, and started at once in compact 
formation for Mercury. 

Their observations were completed without further 
mishap, and they set out for their distant home, their 
number depleted by forty-one ships, for nineteen had 
fallen on Venus. 

In the meantime the Terrestrian and Venerian gov- 
ernments were already preparing vigorously for fur- 
ther inroads. It was agreed at once that this was to 
be a war of science, and that the men they must call 
in were the scientists. These conclusions were reached 
at once, and agreements were immediately drawn up 
between the two worlds to join forces, and thus elim- 



inate all unnecessary motions. It was obvious that they 
would need more ships. However, they must first have a 
scientific report on the ships that had fallen there in 
western Canada, for it might be that it was possible 
to find some ray or force that would make them help- 
less, and they might find also the secret of that death 
ray that they had met. They must first have the scien- 
tists investigate. 

The first scientists they thought of were the men 
who had made possible this so successful resistance: 
Arcot and Morey and Wade. These men they knew 
would all be working in the Arcot Laboratories, and 
they called there at once. Arcot and his friends were 
to start for that battlefield at once. 

“Wade — bring Morey and come on out to the machine 
on the roof at once — I’ll be waiting — that was a call 
from Washington. I will explain as soon as you get 
there,” called Arcot as he snapped the switch of the 
televisophone shut. He had answered the call, and 
given the reply in the name of the three. 

On the roof Arcot at once moved the hangar doors 
open, and got into the five-passenger molecular-motion 
ship inside. The sleek, streamlined sides seemed to 
speak of power and speed. This special model was 
slightly faster than most machines, and as it was a 
research model, designed for their experiments, it car- 
ried many mechanisms that others did not, automatic 
controls that were being developed, among them. These 
had not yet reached a stage of practicability for the pri- 
vate machine, so there were none others in existence. 
They were still in the laboratory stage, but they ad- 
mitted of higher speed, for no human being could con- 
trol the ship as accurately as these. 

It took them a little less than a quarter of an hour 
to make the 5,000-mile trip from New York to the 
battlefield of Canada. Arcot and his friends were 
passed through the lines at once, and they settled to 
the ground beside one of the huge ships that lay half 
buried in the soil. The force of the impact had splashed 
the solid soil as a stone wall will splash soft mud, and 
around the ship there was a little ridge of earth. 
Arcot looked at the titanic proportions of these ships 
from space, and turned to his friends: 

“We can investigate that wreck on foot, but I think 
that it will be far more sensible to see what we can 
do with the car. That ship is certainly a mile or more 
long, and we would spend more time walking than in 
investigation. I suggest, therefore, that we see if there 
is not room enough for the car inside. That beats even 
those huge Kaxorian planes for size. I sure would 
have liked to mix it in the fight they must have had — 
nice little things to play with, aren’t they?” grinned 
Arcot as they looked at the mighty bulk of glistening 
metal, twisted and distorted now, but still holding the 
lines of terrific power about it. 

“It would make a nice playmate,” agreed Wade as 
he looked at the rows of wicked-looking projectors along 
the sides of the metal hull, “and I wonder if there 
might not be more in there ? If there are, the size of the 
ship would prevent them showing themselves very 
quickly, and since they can’t move the ship, it seems 
to me that they will begin to be noticeable in a short 
time. Probably, with the engines stopped, their main 
rays are useless, but they would doubtless have hand 
weapons. I am highly in favor of entering the car. 
We carry a molecular director ray, so if the way is 
blocked, we can make a new one. Look over there — 
that ship is still flaming — it is a reddish flame — but 
almost colorless. It certainly looks like a gas flame, 
with a bit of calcium in it. That atmosphere looks 
almost as if it were combustible. If we should do 
any exploring in the ship, I suggest that we use alti- 
tude suits — they will be good in any case.” 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



501 



There were three or four of the great wrecks flaming 
now, evolving great long tongues of colorless, intensely 
hot flame. Several of the ships had been only slightly 
damaged; one had been brought down by a beam that 
had torn the entire tail of the ship free, leaving the 
bow in good condition. Apparently this machine had 
not fallen far; perhaps the pilot had maintained par- 
tial control of the ship, his power at last, utterly failing 
when only a comparatively short distance from Earth. 
This was rather well to one side of the field, however, 
and we decided to investigate it later. Since the ships 
were scattered over an area perhaps twenty-five miles 
square, it meant a considerable trip to that other ship. 

This ship had crashed nose first, and the nose had 
been utterly ruined, then the tail of the ship had fallen 
horizontally, after the lengthwise members gave way. 
The car was maneuvered cautiously into the great hole 
at the nose of the ship, and they entered the mighty 
vessel slowly. There were many heavy girders sticking 
out at odd angles, any one of which seemed quite capable 
of wrecking the little ship, so they turned on a powerful 
spotlight. It soon became evident that there was little 
to fear from any living enemies, and they proceeded 
more rapidly. Certainly no creature could live after the 
shock that had broken these huge girders! Several 
times huge beams blocked their path, and they were 
forced to use the molecular director beam to bend them 
out of the way. 

“Man, but those beams do look as if they were built 
permanently! I would hate to ram the machine against 
one of them ! We never would get through here on foot, 
and without this ray, we wouldn’t get through here any- 
way. Look at that one — just see how it has bent — if 
that has anywhere near the strength of steel, just think 
of the force it took to do that!” said Arcot as they 
stopped a moment to clear away a huge member that 
was bent across their path. “But there it goes — its 
molecules are pulling it around. I hate to use this too 
freely, though — it may put some strain on another 
girder, and we may have the whole structure tumbling 
in on us!” 

At last they had penetrated to the long tube that led 
through the length of the ship — the communication 
tube. This admitted the small ship easily, and they 
moved swiftly along till they came to what they believed 
to be about the center of the original ship. Here Arcot 
proposed that they step out and see what there was to 
be seen. As they had been the first party of scientists 
to arrive, they could only guess at what they would find. 

“I don’t know what we’ll find, fellows, but I think the 
engines should be in about the center of the ship. The 
machine seems to have landed on one side rather than 
on its keel, and I suspect that the sudden shock has torn 
the engines loose, but we may find something of inter- 
est. There is what seems to be a doorway there. I 
suggest that we* stop, leave the ship here, and enter on 
foot. We can wear altitude suits and carry our ray 
pistols.” 

The others agreed, and they at once put on their alti- 
tude suits, heavy rubberized canvas suits designed to be 
worn outside the ship when at high altitude, or even in 
space. They were supplied with oxygen tanks that 
would keep the wearer alive for about six hours. Unless 
the atmosphere of the ships was exceeding corrosive, the 
men would be safe. 

They decided that if one was to go, they might as 
well all go, for three with the ray pistols would be safer 
than splitting the party up. Also there might be heavy 
work to do, where two ray pistols would be needed. 

T HEY found their first difficulty in opening the door. 

It was an automatic door, and was easily opened 
by compressed air — or dynamite, apparently. They 



finally were forced to tear it out with a ray. It was im- 
possible to move it in any other way. The door was in 
what was now the floor, so the walking was bad. 

They let themselves through the narrow opening of 
the door one at a time, and landed on the sloping wall 
of the corridor beyond. 

“Lucky this wasn’t a big room, or we would have had 
a nice drop to the far wall!” said Wade. The suits were 
equipped with a thin vibrating diaphragm that made 
speech easy, but Wade’s voice came through with a 
queerly metallic ring, for the diaphragm had a denfiite 
period of vibration, and all tones were somewhat dis- 
torted. 

“No, that wouldn’t be so nice, but we can’t stay here. 
We may as well start. There seems to be a defect in 
the lighting system; it certainly is dark. Wade, use the 
hand light, will you? You were wise in picking it up. 
I had an idea that we would have all the light we needed 
— I don’t know just how I got the impression — but I did. 
Look — there is a corridor sloping off to the right — 
down, I should say. Be careful when you go in, for if it 
is long, or opens into a long room, you will be due for a 
nasty fall,” said Arcot, pointing to a dark hole in the 
wall, as Wade’s hand-light reached out in the darkness. 
The place was too big to light adequately. 

“It does seem to be long,” said Wade as he turned his 
light into it, “but it also seems to be rough. I think we 
can do it. I notice that you brought a rope, Arcot; I 
think we can use it to advantage. I’ll go first, unless 
someone else wants to go.” 

“You go first? But I don’t know — if we are all going, 
I guess you had better, at that. It would take two or- 
dinary men to lower a big hulk like you. On the other 
hand, if anybody is going to stay, you’re delegated as 
elevator boy !” 

Wade was a fragile little fellow of about six feet four, 
and would certainly make a very respectable load for any 
one, or any two. Arcot, however, measured six feet two, 
and with the aid of Morey, he should certainly have 
been able to swing the problem, for Morey was six feet 
six, though not quite as heavily built as Wade. 

“Still,” continued Arcot, “I think none of us will need 
to hold the weight of the others with the rope. I have 
an idea that may work out very nicely. Wade, will you 
get three fairly good-sized pieces of metal, something we 
can tie a rope to ? I think we can get down here without 
the help of anyone else. Morey, will you cut the rope in 
three pieces while I held Wade tear loose that girder?” 

Arcot refused to divulge his secret till his prepara- 
tions were complete, but worked quickly and efficiently. 
With the aid of Wade, he soon had three short mem- 
bers, and taking the rope that Morey had prepared, tied 
a length of rope to each piece of metal, leaving a piece 
of rope about twenty feet long hanging from each. 
Now he carefully tested the knots, and the holds the 
ropes had on the metal to make sure they would not slip. 

“Now, let’s see what we can do.” He took a piece of 
the rope and put a small loop in one end, thrust his left 
wrist through this, and grasped the rope firmly with his 
hand. Then he drew his ray pistol, and adjusted it care- 
fully for direction of action. The trigger gave him con- 
trol over power. Finally he turned the ray on the block 
of metal at the other end of the rope. At once the metal 
pulled vigorously, and taughtened the rope, then, as 
Arcot increased the power, he was dragged slowly across 
the floor. 

“Ah — it works. Come on, boys, hitch your wagon to 
a star, and we will go on with the investigation. This is 
a new, double action parachute. It lets you down easy, 
and pulls you up easier! I think we can go where we 
want now, only don’t get nervous and turn on the full 
power of the ray, or you will be minus one good arm, 
and perhaps your life.” 



502 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



With Arcot’s simple brake, they lowered themselves 
into the corridor one at a time, for they must not let the 
ray play on each other, as it inevitably would were one 
above the other. The ray was fatal to any one it 
touched. 

Wade went first with the light, then came Morey, then 
Arcot. 

The scene that lay before them was one of colossal 
destruction. They had indeed stumbled on the engine 
room. They could not hope to illuminate its vast extent 
with their little hand-light, but they could gain some 
idea of its magnitude, and of its original layout. The 
floor, now at a steep angle, was torn up in many places, 
showing great, massive beams, torn and twisted like so 
many wires, while the heavy floor plates were crumpled 
like used paper. Everywhere the room seemed covered 
with a film of metal, shiny and white, it looked like sil- 
ver, and, after a brief examination, they decided it was 
silver, scattered broadcast over the walls of the room. It 
was some time before they could understand its source. 

“Oh — look — Arcot — Wade — that’s where the silver 
came from!” Morey was pointing toward the dim ceil- 
ing, and as Wade turned the light in that direction they 
too saw. There was a network of heavy bars running 
across the roof, great bars of solid silver, fully three 
feet thick, but in one section there was a hole, as if 
someone had sent a disintegration ray against them, for 
not only were they gone, but there was a hole in the 
metal roof above, a hole that had plainly been fused, as 
had the great silver bars. 

“Lord. — bus bars — three feet thick — what nice engines 
they must have! Look at the way those were blown 
out ! They were short circuited by the crash, just before 
the generator went out, and they were just volatilized! 
Some juice behind them!” Arcot looked in wonder at 
the heavy metal bars. “Keep the light up there, I’m 
going to try to investigate.” 

Arcot took a shorter hitch on his rope, and floated up 
to the roof, examining the heavy bars. He looked at 
them for a moment, then quickly he lowered himself. 
They had just been fused by the current of electricity, 
he was assured. They had barely entered the great 
room. They lowered themselves to the dim, far side, 
where they had been able only to distinguish vast lumps 
of metal. The distance must have been two hundred 
feet across. Carefully they lowered themselves, and 
gingerly stood on the piled masses of wrecked machines. 

A careful examination was impossible; they were 
wrecks, but Arcot did see that they seemed mainly to be 
giant electrical machines of standard types, but on a 
scale gargantuan. There w r ere titanic masses of wrecked 
metal, iron and silver, for with these men silver seemed 
to replace copper, though nothing could replace iron and 
its magnetic uses. 

“They are just electrical machines, I guess,” said 
Arcot at last. “But what a size! They seem wholly 
electrical, don’t they, Wade?” 

“I have been looking the mass over, and they do, but 
there are just two things that bother me. Come here.” 
As Arcot jumped over, nearly suspended by his ray pis- 
tol, Wade directed his light on a small machine that had 
fallen in between the cracks in the giant mass of broken 
generators. It was a little thing, apparently housed in a 
glass case. There was only one difficulty with that as- 
sumption. There was a large cast iron base of a gen- 
erator lying on it, made of metal perhaps two feet thick, 
and that metal was cracked where it rested on the case, 
and the case, made of material an inch and a half thick, 
was only slightly dented. 

“Whewwww — that’s a nice kind of glass to have! I 
wonder if we can’t lay our hands on some and examine 
it? Oh — I wonder — yes, it must be! There is a win- 
dow in the side up there toward what was the bow that 



seemed to me to be the same stuff. It is buried about 
three feet in solid earth, so I imagine it must be.” 

The three made their way at once to where they had 
seen the window. The frame was evidently steel, or 
some such alloy, and it was twisted and bent under the 
blow, for this was evidently the outer wall, and the im- 
pact of landing had flattened the rounded side like an old 
can. But that “glass” window was quite undisturbed! 
There was, as a further proof, a large granite rock lying 
against it on the outside, which was not remarkable, 
except that the big rock had been made into little ones 
by the crash, quite as effectively as could be done by 
anyone sentenced to hard labor. The window was tough, 
to say the least. 

“Say — that’s some building material! Just look at 
that granite rock— smashed into sand ! Yet the window 
is scarcely scratched ! Look how the frame that held it 
is torn — just torn, not broken. I wonder if we can tear 
it loose altogether? I’ll take my ray pistol and try it 
from here, but if it comes loose we will have a shower 
of stones and dirt, so look out!” said Arcot, stepping 
forward. There was a thud as his metal bar crashed 
down when the ray was shut off. Then, as the others 
got out of the way, he stepped toward the window and 
turned his ray on it. More and more power was used, 
till suddenly there was a rending crash, and they saw 
only a leaping column of earth, and sand, and broken 
granite flying up through the hole in the steel shell. 
There was a sudden violent crash, then a moment later a 
second equally violent crash as the window, having flown 
up to the “ceiling” came thumping back to the floor. 

“Wait a moment till the dust settles, and we will see 
what our prize looks like,” called Arcot over the din of 
falling stones and dirt. He had jumped back as soon as 
the window came loose, but nevertheless he had collected 
a nice little lump on his head from a falling stone. The 
altitude suit had offered considerable protection, but he 
decided that he might have done better, as he rubbed 
his head rather ruefully. 

AT last the dust had, to a large extent, settled, and 
A they came forward, looking for the window. They 
found it, somewhat buried by the rubbish, lying off to 
one side. Arcot bent down to tilt it and sweep off the 
dirt ; he grasped it with one hand, and pulled. The win- 
dow remained where it was. He grasped it with both 
hands and pulled harder. The window remained where 
it was. 

“Uh — say, lend a hand will you, Wade — you’re big 
enough; see if you can lift it.” Together the two men 
pulled, but the results were exactly nothing. That win- 
dow was about three feet by two feet by one inch, mak- 
ing the total volume about one-half a cubic foot, but it 
certainly was heavy. They could not begin to move it. 
An equal volume of lead would have weighed about four 
hundred pounds, but this was decidedly more than four 
hundred pounds. Indeed, the combined strength of the 
three men did not do more than rock it. 

“Well — it certainly is no kind of matter we know of!” 
observed Morey. “Osmium, the heaviest known metal, 
has a density of twenty-two and a half, which would 
weigh about 730 pounds. I think we could lift that, so 
this is heavier than anything we know. At least that’s 
proof of a new system. Between Venus and Earth we 
have found every element that occurs in the sun. These 
people must have come from another star !” 

“I think they do,” returned Arcot, “but for other rea- 
sons. I think I know where this kind of matter exists 
in the solar system, which eliminates that reason. I 
think you have already seen it — in the gaseous state. 
Do you remember that the Kaxorians had great reser- 
voirs for storing light-energy in a bound state in their 
giant planes? They had bound light, light held by the 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



503 



gravitational attraction for itself, after condensing it in 
their apparatus, but they had what amounted to a gas — 
gaseous light. Now suppose that someone makes a light 
condenser even more powerful than the one the Ka,x- 
orians used, a condenser that forces the light so close to 
itself, increases its density, till the photons hold each 
other permanently, and the substance becomes solid. It 
will be a very dense solid, and a very hard solid. It will 
be matter, matter made of light — light-matter — and let 
us call it a metal. You know that ordinary matter is 
electricity matter, and electricity matter metals conduct 
electricity readily. Now why shouldn’t our ‘light mat- 
ter’ metal conduct light? It would be a wonderful sub- 
stance for windows. 

“But now r comes the question of moving it. We can’t 
lift it, and we certainly want to examine it. We didn’t 
do w'hat everyone expected us to, w'hereas all the others 
probably will, and since our laboratory hasn’t been 
brought here, we must take w'hat we want to the labora- 
tory. It will probably save time at that. I think we are 
about through here — the place is clearly quite perma- 
nently demolished. We can never find what we want 
here, so I think we had best return to the ship and start 
to that other machine we saw that hadn’t been so thor- 
oughly destroyed. Now the question is, can we move 
this?” 

“I think a ray may move it. Of course it may not — 
but I think it will !” 

“I should say it would!” said Wade, looking sugges- 
tively at the dirt scattered on the floor, and the broken 
window' frame. 

“Not necessarily. It might have been the pressure 
of the dirt on the window, though I don’t think so. But 
here is the way to decide,” replied Arcot. 

He drew' his ray pistol, and stepped back a bit, adjust- 
ing the pistol so the ray would direct the plate straight 
up. Slowly he applied the power, and as he gradually 
increased it, he reached a point where the plate heaved, 
then moved into the air. 

“It works! Now you can use your pistol, Morey, and 
direct it toward the corridor. I will send it up, and let 
it fall outside, then we can pick it up later.” Morey 
stepped forward, and while Arcot held it in the air with 
his ray, Morey propelled it gently with his, till it was 
directly under the corridor leading up. Then Arcot 
gave it a sudden increase in power, and the plate scaled 
suddenly upw'ard, sailing out of sight. Then, as Arcot 
shut off his ray, there came to their ears a sudden crash 
as the plate fell to the floor above. 

The three men at once regained their ropes, and “dou- 
ble action parachutes” as Arcot called them, and floated 
up to the next floor. Here they w'aited till the last had 
arrived, then again they started the process of moving 
the plate. All went well till they came to the little car 
itself. They could not use the ray on the car, for fear of 
damaging the machinery. They had to use some purely 
mechanical method of hoisting it in. 

“I think we can do it, Wade, if you will find some 
beams about ten or twelve feet long — not some girders 
that weigh half a ton themselves, but some lighter beams 
that we can put across our shoulders, and let you 
maneuver the plate upon them. Then we will slide it 
into the ship. If we have only about one-eighth of the 
weight, I think we can do it. From the feel of the pistol, 
I should say it weighed about 2000 pounds. Using the 
wheelbarrow principle will permit us to hold it.” 

The two men i-eleased their rays, and permitted the 
plate to settle to the floor; then they began their search 
for beams. 

Beams there were in plenty — great, heavy stringers 
that could have held the greatest of the modern towers 
- — and there were long stringers that were designed to 
prevent bending stresses, shaped, and built like bridge 



members. Whoever designed this ship, they decided, 
was not trying to conserve either metal or weight. They 
didn’t seem to use anything smaller than a three-foot 
deep I beam. It would have taken a derrick to move 
the beams, let alone the plate ! 

Finally they solved the problem by using the molecular 
director ray to swing a heavy beam into the air, then 
one man pulled on the far end of it with a rope, and 
swung it till it -was resting on the door of the ship on 
one end, and the other rested in a hole they had torn in 
the lining of the tube. 

Now they maneuvered the heavy plate till it was rest- 
ing on the beam ; then they released the plate, and 
■watched it slide down the incline, shooting through the 
open doorway of the car. In a moment the beam was 
moved, and the job, which had seemed next to impossi- 
ble, had been very satisfactorily done, except that the 
plate had landed in the exact center of the car, and it 
was rather difficult to navigate inside the machine now. 
There was a slight curvature to the plate, and stepping 
on it was apt to cause a fall. 

The plate at last safely stowed, the three men climbed 
into the car, and prepared to leave. 

T HE little machine glided swiftly down the tube 
through the mighty ship, finally coming out through 
the huge rent that had admitted them. They rose 
quickly into the air, and started at once for the head- 
quarters of the government ships. The public had been 
kept in ignorance, and since the section where the ships 
had fallen was quite deserted, there v'ere no civilians 
with their craning necks, always in the way of the opera- 
tions that must be carried on now with the maximum 
of efficiency. Already there were a great number of 
scientists gathered about the headquarters ship. As 
Arcot’s party arrived there first, they w'ere now per- 
mitted to choose their field of exploration, each of the 
wrecks being assigned to one group. Arcot decided at 
once that the nearly perfect ship lying off to the west 
would be their choice. They were at once assigned to 
this machine, and two Air Patrolmen were sent with 
them, 

“Lieutenant Wright and Lieutenant Greer will go 
with you. In case of necessity they may be able to help 
considerably. Is there anything we can do to help?” 
asked the Colonel. 

“I believe these men are all armed with the standard 
revolver, are they not?” replied Arcot. “I think we 
will be considerably safer if I arm them with some of 
the new director ray pistols. I have several in the tool 
box of the machine. It will be all right, I suppose?” 
“Certainly, Dr. Arcot. They are to be under your 
commands.” 

The party, increased to five now, returned to the ship, 
where Arcot showed the men the details of the ray pis- 
tols, and how to use them. The control for direction of 
operation of the ray was rather intricate on these early 
models, and required considerable explanation. The 
range of even these small weapons was infinite in space, 
according to theory, but in air the energy was rather 
rapidly absorbed by ionization of the air, and the dis- 
persion of the beam made it ineffective in space over a 
range of more than thirty-five miles. However, the 
larger ship projectors had a longer range, and these 
w'ere certainly sufficient for their purpose as hand 
w'eapons. 

Again entering the little molecular motion car, they 
went at once to the great hull of the fallen ship. They 
inspected it cautiously from a height before going too 
close, for the ship had very obviously landed without the 
terrific concussion that the rest had experienced, and it 
was very probable that many men in the machine were 
still alive. The entire stern of the huge machine had 



504 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




been torn off, and apparently the ship was helpless to 
rise, but there were lights glowing through the port- 
holes on the side, indicating plainly that their power 
had not altogether failed. 

“I think we had best treat that ship with all due 
respect,” remarked Wade, looking down at the 
lighted windows. “They seem to have power, and 
it is quite possible that they have men. The 
ship is scarcely dented save where the stern was 
touched by a ray. It is lucky they had 
those ray projector ships! They have 
been in service only about four months, 
have they not, Lieutenant?” 

“Just about that, sir, and they hadn’t 



They used the molecidar di- 
rector ray to swing a heavy 
beam into the air. 



gotten the ray pistols out in quantities great enough 
to be distributed as yet. It was fortunate that those 
ships were in service,” replied the Air Patrolman. 

“I wonder why they didn’t greet us with some of their 
rays,” said Morey, with a rather worried look. It did 
seem that there should be some of the rays in action by 
now. They were less than a mile from the ship, and 
moving rather slowly. 

“I have been puzzling over that myself,” replied 
Arcot, “and I came to the conclusion that either the ray 
projectors are fed by a separate system of power dis- 
tribution, which has been destroyed, or that the men 
are all dead.” 

They were to learn later, in their exploration of the 
ship, that the ray projectors mounted on the ship were 
fed from a separate generator, which generated a spe- 
cial form of alternating current wave for them. This 
generator had been damaged by the ray of the terres- 
trial ship that had brought them down. 

The little machine was well toward the stern of the 
giant now, and they lowered it till it was on a level with 
the torn metal. It was plain that the ship had been 
subject to some terrific tension, for it had contracted at 
the tail here, as a rubber band contracts its cross sec- 
tion when stretched. The great girders were stretched 
and broken like wires, and the huge ribs were bent and 



twisted like so many pieces of lead. The tube, which 
ran the length of the ship, since it had been smaller 
than the ship, and nearly as strong as the outer walls, 
had suffered more. It had been drawn down to about 
three-quarters its original diameter, and the ship could 
not enter. They were able to remedy this, however, by 
using their ray. It was soon opened out, and the machine 
glided slowly into the dark tunnel. The searchlight 
reaching ahead filled the metal tunnel with a myriad 
deceptive reflections on the polished metal walls. The 
tube was lighted up for the full length ahead of them, 
and seemed empty. Cautiously, they advanced. 

“Wade— Morey — where shall we stop first — I think 
we had better investigate the engines first. They will 
probably be of prime importance. We know where they 
are. What do you say?” asked Arcot, who was at the 
controls. 

“I agree!” replied Wade, and Morey joined him in his 
approval at once. 

They ran the ship down the long tube till they again 
reached the door they knew must be at the engine room 
landing, and stepped out of the car, each wearing an 
altitude suit. This ship had landed level, and progress 
would be much easier than in the other one. They 
waited a moment before opening the door from the tun- 
nel into the engine room, for this opened into a narrow 




THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



505 



corridor where but one could pass, and the corridor 
opened directly into the engine room, as they learned 
from investigation on the other ship. The three scien- 
tists explained this quickly to the air men, and they 
insisted on leading the way. They had been sent along 
for the express purpose of protecting the scientists, and 
it was their duty to lead. 

“I was given orders to take my orders from you,” Lieu- 
tenant Wright said, “but those orders also said I was to 
see to it that you were protected. In this case the orders 
are conflicting, and I will have to use my judgment. 
You are needed by this world, and Venus too, more than 
any other three men in the system, and I certainly think 
we should go ahead. Besides, with the ray pistols, why 
worry?” 

He at last won his point, and the two officers stepped 
to the door, and standing off to one side, tore it open 
with a ray from their pistols. It fell with a clatter to 
the rounded metal floor of the tube, and lay their vibrat- 
ing noisily, but no rays of death came from beyond. 
Cautiously the two officers peered around the corner of 
the long corridor, then, seeing nothing, leaped to the 
floor of the corridor, which was a bit higher than the 
floor of the tube, and started along it. Wade came next, 
then Arcot, followed by Morey, who, much to his dis- 
gust, had drawn the shortest of three match sticks. 

The corridor was perhaps thirty feet long, then it 
opened into the great engine room. Already the men 
could hear the smooth hum of powerful machines, and 
see the rounded backs of metal giants. 

From the engine room ahead came only the steady 
low purr of the giant machines, but there was no hint of 
human life. The men advanced steadily. 

At last they reached the threshold of the engine room. 

“Well — we haven’t seen anyone, and no one has seen 
us,” said Arcot in a low voice, “but they may be behind 
one of those giant engines, quite unaware of us. When 
they see us they will be ready to fight. Now remember, 
those weapons you have will tear loose anything they hit. 
You have some appreciation of the power of those en- 
gines, so don’t put them out of commission, and have 
them release their energies in the neighborhood. We 
wouldn’t last long, and it may be, if they are driven as I 
suspect, that the Earth itself would be disturbed by 
their explosion. It is only luck that some of them did 
not explode when the ships were brought down.” 

“But look out for those men, and get them if they 
try for you!” 

C AUTIOUSLY, but quickly, they stepped out into the 
great room where they might be able to use all of 
their rays at once, instead of one at a time. Each had 
his ray pistol in his hand, ready for instant action. They 
walked out into the room, glancing swiftly about them — • 
and simultaneously the enemies caught sight of each 
other. There were six of them, tall men, about seven 
feet high, and they walked with the rather labored step 
of a Venerean, but they weren’t Venereans, for their 
skin and flesh was a strange white, which looked like 
raw dough. The eyes of men seem to work with photo- 
graphic exactitude and speed in an emergency. It seemed 
to Arcot that those strange pale men were advancing at 
a slow walk, and that he stood still watching them as 
they slowly raised their strange ray pistols. He seemed 
to notice every detail — their short, tight-fitting suit of 
some elastic material that didn’t hamper their move- 
ments, and their strange flesh, which just seemed to 
escape being transparent, because it was too dense. 
Their eyes were, strangely large, and the black spot of 
the pupil in their white corneas seemed intensified by 
contrast. Then they were leaping at him, and he re- 
sponded with a sudden flick of his ray, as he flung him- 
self to one side. Simultaneously his four companions 



let their rays fly toward the Invaders. They glowed 
strangely red here, more nearly resembling the reddish 
hue of the enemies’ rays. It was obvious that this 
atmosphere contained some other gas than our air. But 
those rays were still effective, and the six Invaders 
were suddenly gone, but not before they released their 
own rays. On the floor of the mighty ship there lay one 
man who would never rise again. Their ray had touched 
Lieutenant Wright. 

The Terrestrians scarcely had a chance to notice this, 
for immediately there was a terrific rending crash, and 
clean daylight was pouring in through a huge opening in 
the wall of the ship. The men of the Invaders had been 
standing before the metal wall, and when the five rays 
flew at them, they had been repulsed violently, going 
back toward the walls, and with them the section of the 
wall had flown out. 

Suddenly there was a second jarring thud, more as of 
a dull explosion ; then there was a great sheet of flame 
in that hole — a great wall of ruddy flame that filled the 
gap, and swept rapidly in. Arcot swung up his ray 
pistol, and pointed it at the mass of flaming gas. There 
was a rushing column of air coming through the nar- 
row corridor from the tube, but the flame went out, and 
became a roaring column of gas on the outside of the 
ship. 

“Lieutenant, turn your ray on that hole, and keep it 
there, blow that flame outside with it. You will find you 
can’t put it out, but if you keep it outside the ship, it 
will be all right!” The officer swung his ray at it and 
relieved Arcot. 

Wade and Morey were already bending over the fallen 
man. They could do nothing more for him. 

“I’m afraid there is nothing we can do for him, and 
every moment here is dangerous. We will continue our 
investigation and carry him back to the ship when we 
leave. Does that suit you?” asked Arcot. 

“I suppose there is nothing else to do — but why is 
that gas burning so — can’t we put it out ?” asked Morey. 

“Let’s get through — the discussion comes after,” 
replied Arcot with a smile, and turning, they set out on 
their investigation somewhat silenced by that figure 
lying on the metal floor there. 

The bodies of the Invaders were gone, and they could 
make no examination of them now. They must hope that 
some of the other investigators would find them. 
That was a matter for the doctors and biologists, 
anyway. They were investigating the engines, which 
seemed to overtower everything about them. 

Perhaps it was this that permitted the three other 
engineers of the Invaders to get so close. The only 
warning the Terrestrians had, was a sudden feeling of 
faintness as they stepped around the corner of an en- 
gine, and a slight pink haze. They leaped quickly back, 
out of sight, peering around the corner in wonder. 
There was nothing. Soon they saw a hand reaching out 
with a ray gun; then another hand with a different ray 
gun, from behind the silent engine; a sudden crash of 
metal, a groan and quiet. Two other men leaped from 
behind the great engine, just as the Terrestrians 
dodged further back. In an instant these others were 
behind another mass of metal. Arcot swung his ray up, 
and was about to pull the trigger that would send the 
huge engine toppling over, when he saw that it was run- 
ning. He was afraid of the consequences and desisted. 
Cautiously he looked around the edge of the huge mass 
of metal, and watched — patiently — ah — his ray snapped 
out, and there was another snapping as the ray tore off 
the head of one of the Invaders, pulling him into its 
range to be instantly annihilated, then spending itself 
on a huge mass of metal — a mighty transformer of some 
sort. The thing was so huge, that in the low concen- 
tration that Arcot had used, it merely tottered a bit. 



506 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



Only a small portion had been touched, and the mole- 
cules of this portion had not been enough to tip its 
mighty weight over. 

There remained one man, and Arcot saw that he was 
certainly in action, for almost before he could dodge 
back there came a ray of pink haziness. To Arcot’s 
amazement it touched his hand, outstretched as it had 
been when he fired, and a sudden numbness came over 
it. The ray pistol seemed to lose all feeling of warmth 
or cold. It was there; he could feel the weight of it 
on the muscles of his upper arm, but his forearm was 
deadened. In an instant his hand was out of the ray. 
It seemed less than a second before feeling began to 
return, and in less than five his hand was perfectly 
normal again. 

“Whew— that was a most unpleasantly narrow 
squeak! It hit my hand, but I must say their ray is a 
gentlemanly sort of thing. It seems to kill you al- 
together, or not at all. But we had best keep our eyes 
open— there goes his ray !” 

A shaft of pink radiance reached about the end of 
the engine, just grazing it. It would certainly be impos- 
sible to step out into the open space — but they couldn’t 
stay here forever. There would be reinforcements soon ! 
Evidently the mass of metal was opaque to the death 
ray. 

“Look — he is under that big metal bar — up there in 
the roof — see it? I am going to pull it down; he may 
get nervous and come into sight. I will be careful not 
to hit anything else !” said Wade, raising his ray pistol. 
Arcot leaped quickly forward, and held his trigger 
release. 

“Lord — don’t do that, Wade — there may be more stuff 
above, or those bars may connect the different engines, 
and if they are necessary, and you remove them, I don’t 
care to be here. The only way is to fight it out. This 
war that we have coming is going to be a war of science 
and rays, the most powerful weapons of science. We 
have a little individual duel here, and it is a duel of 
rays, so let’s fight safe and fair. I am going to try to 
get around on the other side of the machine here, and 
see what I can do, while you fellows keep him occupied.” 

A RCOT disappeared around the corner of the black, 
l humming giant, and they w r aited anxiously for 
some sign of him. They waited what seemed long years, 
then suddenly the ray that had been playing at irregular 
intervals across the end of the machine, swung quickly 
to the other side, and simultaneously a duller red ray 
seemed to leap from the machine itself toward the source 
of the ray. The two rays met, and crossed, and by some 
trick of fate, they seemed mutually antagonistic, and 
there was a crashing arc for an instant, then both went 
dead, as the apparatus that generated them were blown 
out by the terrific momentary overload. But the Invader 
was, apparently carrying a spare, for the Terrestrians 
saw him leap toward his enemy with another projector, 
trying quickly to draw it from his pocket pouch. They 
turned their rays on him, a very low concentration 
Wade used, hoping only to knock him over by the repul- 
sion effect of the directed molecules. But Morey was not 
so sure of the morals of the Invader, and used a higher 
power. Just as his projector at last came free, the ray 
hurled him to the left, and away from his men. He 
crashed into a huge motor, and the result was not nice. 

The projector had been jerked from his hand and lay 
■off to one side on the floor. Arcot ran over to it, and 
picking it up, called out to his friends: “You saved me 
that time— I think I would have gotten him at that, if 
his ray hadn’t affected mine in that way. I can’t under- 
stand it; it doesn’t seem possible — but still, our ray is 
really a projected electro-static oscillation, and it is 



quite possible that his was of the same nature, in a 
different frequency. They would have neutralization 
points, and the effects on the projectors would throw 
both machines out of tune, and the rays would soon 
reach a common mean I suppose — I am going to take 
this, and see if I can figure it out. I doubt it, though; 
the essential apparatus was in that pack on his back, 
just as ours was.” Arcot stopped, listening to the 
Lieutenant’s call. 

“We are all right now, I think — I hope there are no 
more — but by all means stay where you are, and use as 
little power as possible on blowing that flame outside. 
It uses up the atmosphere of this ship, and I think we 
better take it easy here! We’re going to investigate; 
don’t hesitate to call us if anything looks queer.” 

The three men at last felt that they had an oppor- 
tunity to inspect the machinery. For nearly a minute 
they looked about them in awestruck wonder. These 
men had been the first men of Earth to see the driving 
equipment of one of the titanic Kaxorian planes, and 
then they felt tiny beside its mighty bulk ; but now, as 
they examined this huge engine room, they realized that 
even the huge plane shrank into insignificance beside 
this huge interstellar cruiser. 

All about them there loomed the great rounded back 
of huge electric motor-generator sets of some sort. 
Across all the roof there ran a network of gigantic 
metal bars, apparently conductors, but so huge they 
seemed, that they suggested heavy structural members. 
There were several as much as three feet in diameter, 
and apparently solid metal. The huge machines they 
ran into loomed fully thirty feet into the air; like a 
modern electric generator; they were longer than high, 
huge cylinders, thirty feet in diameter, and there was a 
group of four main machines that were each easily a 
hundred and twenty feet long! There were four of 
these giants, and many smaller machines, yet these 
smaller ones would easily have constituted a complete 
power supply for the average big city. Along each wall 
ran a bank of huge transformers. These seemed con- 
nected with the smaller machines generally, there being 
four conductors leading into each of the minor units, 
two intake, and apparently, two output leads, suggesting 
rotary converters. The multiple units, and various types 
and sizes of transformers made it obvious that many 
different frequencies were needed. Some of the trans- 
formers had air cores, and led to machines surrounded 
with a silvery white metal, instead of the usual iron. 
These, apparently, were generating current at an ex- 
tremely high frequency. 

“Well — they ought to have power enough. But do 
you notice that those four main units have their leads 
radiating in different directions? The one on the left 
there seems to lead to that big power board at the front 
— or better, bow. I think it would be worth investigat- 
ing,” suggested Morey, pointing out the rounded back 
of the huge machine he meant. 

“I think there is considerable of interest in it myself. 
You notice that two of the main power units are still 
wmrking, but that those other two have stopped? I think 
they have something directly connected with the motion 
of the ship under their control. But there is one point 
I think is of still greater interest. All the machines we 
have seen, all the conspicuous ones, are secondary power 
sources. There are no primary sources visible. I notice, 
however, that those two main conduits on the roof lead 
over to the right, and toward the bow. I think that it 
would be interesting to investigate that,” said Arcot. 
Indeed, all the huge motors, and the generators driven 
by motors, were not self-sufficient sources of power. 
There must be some input point, and as yet they had not 
found it. 



507 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



“I think that would be a good idea. I was just won- 
dering what those big conduits were made of. They 
certainly make nice little bus bars. They are fairly 
soft, and fairly ductile, as far as I can see. I tore a 
piece off of one of them, and it seems to me to be pure 
silver. You are the chemist, Wade. W'jhat do you say ?” 
asked Morey, passing his sample to his companion. 

“I think it is — it looks like silver, but that is no proof. 
I want to test it, though, and the stuff would make a 
rather expensive, if efficient conduit. The copper we 
use is not as good a conductor, but it is a little lighter, 
and it is a lot cheaper.” 

“I don’t think they would have much trouble getting 
their silver. I think it is quite possible that the planet 
they come from should have a lot of native silver,” 
replied Morey. 

As they talked they had followed the huge conductors 
back to their point of convergence. Suddenly they 
rounded the corner of one of the huge main power units, 
and saw before them, at the center of the square formed 
by these machines, a low platform of the clear light- 
metal. At the exact center of this raised platform, 
which was twenty feet in diameter, there was a small 
table, about seven feet on an edge, and raised about five 
feet from the level of the platform on stout light-metal 
legs. On the table there were two huge cubes of solid 
silver, and into these great cubes ran all those conduc- 
tors they had seen. In the space perhaps six inches left 
between the great blocks of metal, there was a small 
box constructed of a new material. It was the most 
absolutely reflecting substance that any of the men had 
ever imagined. Indeed, it was so perfect a reflector that 
they were unable to see it, but could detect its presence 
only by the mirror images, and the fact that it blotted 
out the objects behind. Now they noticed that through 
the huge blocks of metal there were two small holes, and 
two thin wires of this same reflecting material led into 
those holes, but carefully insulated from the metal itself 
by a coating of the light-matter. The wires were led 
directly up to the roof, and then hung on three-foot 
hangers of the light-metal; they were led toward 
the bow. 

Could this be the source of the power for the whole 
ship, w r ondered the puzzled scientists? It seemed impos- 
sible, yet there were many other impossible things hap- 
pening here, and that strangely reflecting matter was 
one of the strangest. 

There was a low railing about the cubes, and their 
little center piece, apparently intended to keep men from 
coming in contact with it, so they decided that it was 
wisest to leave it alone. 

They had scarcely looked at it carefully, had not even 
found time to ask each other questions, when the lieu- 
tenant called to them that he could hear sounds behind 
him. 

At once the other men ran rapidly toward the narrow 
corridor that had given them entrance. The flaming 
gas was still shooting through the hole in the wall of the' 
ship, and the rush of air through the corridor made it 
very difficult to hear any sounds there, and the same 
rush of air made it exceedingly difficult to walk. 

“Turn on more power if you can, Lieutenant, and see 
if we can’t draw out the enemy,” suggested Arcot, while 
his friends got in position around the tube exit, well 
braced. 

As the officer increased the power of his ray, the moan 
of the air through the tube-like corridor increased sud- 
denly to a terrific roar, while an additional roar came 
into the ears of the men, as the powerful blast of air 
struck a peculiarly shaped projection and set it vibrat- 
ing. But no enemies came out. 

“I don’t think anything less than a war tank could 



stand that blast,” said Arcot, after the Lieutenant had 
shut off the blast from his pistol, at Arcot’s signal. “It 
is probable that we will be attacked if we stay much 
longer, though. I think that I will ask the Lieutenant 
to stay here while we go out and get the ship ready to 
leave. This time you are somewhat in the condition of 
Hercules after Atlas left him holding the skies on his 
shoulders. You can’t let go of that ray pistol for long, 
or we will have a first rate explosion,” grinned Arcot. 
“We are going to go back first, if you men wouldn’t let 
us come in first. We refuse to relieve you, and this 
time, though your orders conflict, you can use your 
judgment only one way! We will signal you by firing 
a revolver, and then you can come back to the corridor, 
snap off your ray, and run into the ship which will be 
waiting. 

“We have one duty to perform first; we will carry this 
man back to the ship. He was a brave man, and he cer- 
tainly deserves burial in the soil of his own world.” 

“I think I will look up his family, too, Morey, and 
your father’s company will have to increase my salary 
a little.” 

S LOWLY the men forced their way back toward the 
ship, fighting their way against the roaring column 
of air, their burden hindering them somewhat; but at 
last they reached the open tunnel. Even here the air 
was in violent motion. 

“We had better get out of here,” said Arcot, feeling 
the draft of air coming up the tube from the open end. 
“I am sure we are due for an explosion.” 

They got into the car as quickly as possible, and ar- 
ranged to reverse it. Then Wade fired the signal shot. 
A moment later they saw the Lieutenant fighting his 
way back against the pressure of the air, which had 
continued for a while under its own momentum of 
motion. 

But, by the time he was in the car, there was an omi- 
nous calm. The car was already backing swiftly down 
the corridor, and had gotten nearly free, when suddenly 
there was a dull sound ahead of them, and the car was 
caught on a wave of pressure, and they were hurled 
backwards with a terrific acceleration. They had been 
headed straight out. The pressure seemed uniform, 
and luck was with them, so they reached the open air, 
shooting backwards at a speed of several hundred miles 
an hour, the great tunnel, with its strong walls, and 
flared opening, acting like some gigantic blunderbus, 
with the car as its bullet. Arcot did not try to slow 
down the little ship, but drove his foot down heavily on 
the vertical accelerator, and the ship rocketed up with 
terrific speed, and the acceleration seemed to pin the 
men down to their seats with tripled weight. They had 
climbed nearly a mile before the explosion came. A 
terrific concussion it was, a dull thud of exploding gas, 
and the little ship rocked and heaved in the vortex of 
rushing gas, for they were scarce a full length away 
from the great wreck, a mile long it was, and would 
easily have reached up to them. The entire ship though, 
now, as they looked at it, seemed to soundlessly disinte- 
grate, and they realized the reason. They were rushing 
away from it faster than the sound it made, and they 
could not hear the explosion. The great ship seemed to 
leap into a hundred great parts. It split throughout its 
length, falling in huge broken masses of metal all about 
it. One huge fragment was thrown high into the air 
to fall on the ground beside it, and drive itself deep into 
the soil. 

But the explosion was over in an instant, and there 
came a momentary lull. Suddenly, from the wrecked 
engine room, there shot out a beam of intense white 
fight that reached down and struck the soil beside the 



508 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



ship, and a part of the ship itself. In an instant the 
soil, and that bit of the ship were glowing incandescent, 
and slumped molten, volatilizing, beside it. The beam 
suddenly began to shift, faster and faster, as the 
support that was holding it was melting, it twisted 
about, reaching forward, cutting the mighty ship in two 
like a hot knife melting its way through a piece of 
butter. It had but half completed this maneuver, when 
there came a sudden blast of light from the point where 
the beam originated, and the entire region became a 
lake of molten metal, while the Terrestrians flew 
blindly, their eyes temporarily dazzled by the light. I 
call it a blast of light, for so intense was it that no 
other word adequately describes it — a light that melted 
all metal about it instantaneously. 

“I think it is time we left that machine!” said Wade, 
looking down in amazement and horror at the pool of 
glowing metal that marked the last of the great ship. 

“That last flash must have been the power plant going. 
Don’t you suppose so, fellows?” asked Arcot. “It cer- 
tainly had plenty of power!” 

They looked at the mass of blazing metal in awe, as 
Arcot brought their flying ship to a halt, and slowly 
lowered it. As they descended, the roar of the explosion 
reached them. Though a full mile and a half away, the 
heat that beat up at them from the great mass of metal 
was so intense as to make the ship most uncomfortably 
warm. 

“I am wondering whether any of the other ships will 
do the same. We ought to warn all the others before 
they do,” suggested Morey. 

“I believe they will come — remember what a noise 
that explosion made when the sound did catch us, and 
then, since we were going away from it very rapidly, 
the Doppler effect lowered the frequency of the sound 
so much that what we felt as mechanical vibrations, 
were actually sound waves. What we heard as a low, 
powerful rumbling, were actually high notes of the 
explosion, so you can appreciate the actual power of that 
sound. It will serve as a very effective warning to the 
other men,” replied Arcot. Indeed, by the time they 
had returned to the central headquarters machine, and 
brought to the staff the unpleasant news of their encoun- 
ter in the ship, many other machines were coming in 
from the other ships. Half an hour later the three men 
were again flying swiftly, now toward New York, 
where Arcot’s laboratory was located. 

“Well, fellows, what are your opinions on it? Wade, 
you are our chemist, tell us what you think of the explo- 
sion of the ship, and of the strange color of our mole- 
cular ray in their air,” suggested Arcot. 

“I have been trying to figure it out. I can’t quite 
believe my results, yet I can’t see any other solution. 
That reddish glow looked like hydrogen ions in the air. 
The atmosphere was certainly combustible when it met 
ours, which makes it impossible to believe that their air 
contained any noticeable amount of oxygen, for any- 
thing above 20 per cent, oxygen and the rest hydrogen 
would be violently explosive, and apparently the gas had 
to mix liberally with our air to reach that proportion. 
That it didn’t explode when ionized, showed the absence 
of hydro-oxygen mixture. All the observed facts except 
one seem to point to an atmosphere composed largely of 
hydrogen. There were people living in it. That is the 
only thing that puzzles me. I can understand how the 
Venerians might stand a different climate, but I can’t 
see how people can live in an atmosphere like that.” 
Wade was greatly puzzled. 

“I came to the same conclusions myself,” replied 
Arcot, himself rather in doubt, “but I think that people 
might live in an atmosphere of hydrogen. It is all a 
question of organic chemistry. Remember that our 



bodies are just chemical furnaces. We take in fuel, and 
oxidize it, using the heat as our source of power. Those 
men live in an atmosphere of hydrogen. They eat 
oxidizing fuels, and breathe a reducing atmosphere; 
they have the two fuel components together again, but 
in a way different from our method. It is just as effec- 
tive. 

“I am sure that is the secret of the whole thing.” 

“Say, Arcot — I believe you’re right!” said Wade with 
an expression of surprised belief on his face. He could 
see the possibility of the thing. “But I want to ask you 
a question. Where under the sun did these people come 
from?” 

“I have been thinking that over myself,” replied 
Arcot slowly, “and I am beginning to wonder myself, 
and the more I wonder, the less I believe they did come 
from under our sun. Let us eliminate all the planets — 
we can do that at one fell swoop. It is perfectly obvious 
that those ships are by no means the first crude attempts 
of that race to fly through space. If they have had those 
ships, we should certainly have heard from them by 
now. It is known that they can travel in space as rapidly 
as we can in the upper atmosphere, and they would cer- 
tainly have been here long before, if they had been 
living anywhere near here. 

“Even Neptune is too near for the distance to bother 
them any with ships like those. They came from fur- 
ther than that! That takes us out into interstellar 
space. You will probably want to ram a lot of my own 
arguments down my throat — there is no star near 
enough for the journey to be made in anything less than 
a couple of generations, and they would freeze in the 
interstellar cold doing it. Perfectly correct, there is 
no known star near enough to make it possible. But 
how about unknowns?” 

“What did they do with the star? Hide it behind a 
sun-shade?” asked Morey, rather sarcastically. 

“No, brainless, you ought to know better. You well 
know a star can’t radiate forever. Stars are subject to 
decay as well as anything else!” 

“Yes — also the planets that circle them are apt to be- 
come a wee bit cool, you know!” 

“Yes,” admitted Arcot, “I agree with you — for all we 
could do, but give those men credit for a little higher 
order of intelligence. We saw machines there that cer- 
tainly were beyond us ! They are undoubtedly heating 
their planets with the same source of energy with which 
they are running their ships. I believe I have confirma- 
tion of that fact in two things. They are absolutely 
colorless; they don’t even have an opaque white skin. 
Any living creature exposed to the rays of a sun, which 
is sure to emit some chemical rays, is subject to colora- 
tion as a protection against those rays. The whites, who 
have always lived where the sun is weakest, have devel- 
oped a skin only slightly opaque. The Chinese, who live 
In more tropical countries, where less clothes and more 
sun is the motto, have slightly darker skins, while in 
the extreme tropics Nature has found it necessary to 
use a regular blanket of color to stop the rays. Now 
exterpolating the other way, were there no such rays, 
the people would become a pigmentless race. Since most 
proteins are rather translucent, at least when wet, they 
would appear much as those men did. We got little 
opportunity to observe them, but I think you all noticed 
that. Remember that there are very few colored proteins. 
Hemo-globin, such as is in our blood, and hemo-cyanin, 
such as in the blue blood of the Venerians, are practi- 
cally unique in that respect. For hydrogen absorption, 
I imagine the blood of these creatures contains a fair 
proportion of some highly unsaturated compound, which 
readily takes on the element, and gives it up later. But 
we can discuss more in the lab.” 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



509 



B EFORE leaving the field, Arcot had convinced the 
officer in charge that it would be wise to destroy 
these ships at once, lest one of them managed to escape, 
and do tremendous damage. The fact that none of them 
had any rays in operation was easily explained; they 
would have been destroyed by the patrol, if they had 
made any show of weapons. But now they might be 
getting some ready. The scientists were all through 
with their investigations. So the ships had been rayed 
apart, and when Arcot had left, their burning atmos- 
phere had been evolving mighty tongues of flame shoot- 
ing a mile into the air. The light gas of the atmosphere 
tended to rise in a great sphere, a ball that quickly 
burned itself out in the air. It had not taken long for 
the last of the machines to disintegrate under the rays. 
There would be no more trouble from them at any rate ! 
Now Morey asked Arcot if he thought that they had 
learned from the ships all they could ; would it not have 
been wiser to save them, and investigate later, taking a 
chance on stopping any ships, keeping a patrol of air 
guards there. 

“I thought quite a bit before I suggested that, and I 
conferred for a few moments with Dr. Forsyth, the fa- 
mous biologist and bacteriologist. He said that they 
had by no means learned as much as they wished, but 
they had been forced to leave in any event. Remember 
that pure hydrogen, the atmosphere we were actually 
living in, while on the ship, is quite as inert as pure oxy- 
gen, but they get very rough when mixed together. The 
longer those ships stood the more dangerously explosive 
they got. If we hadn’t destroyed them, they would have 
wrecked themselves, and it was so exceedingly unsafe 
even after the short two hours, that we could not stay 
there. I think it was wisest. Also, Dr. Forsyth pointed 
out the danger of disease. We might be susceptible to 
their germs. I don’t believe we would be, for our chemi- 
cal constitution is so vastly different. For instance, the 
Venerians and Terrestrians can visit each other with 
perfect freedom. The Venerians have diseases, and so 
do we, but there are things in the blood of Venerians 
that are absolutely deadly to any Terrestrian organism. 
Venerians have been injected with every known Terres- 
trian disease, and not even been bothered by the germs. 
They have no immunity, but their chemical constitution 
is so different that they don’t need it. Sulphuric acid 
has developed no immunity to the bacteria of decay, but 
it is so corrosive, it doesn’t need any. The Venerians, 
with their copper compound blood, are fatal to any Ter- 
restrian organism, while Terrestrians are deadly to 
any Venerian organism. Similarly, Dr. Forsyth thinks, 
we would be immune to all diseases brought by the In- 
vaders. However, it is safest to remove them first, and 
decide later.” 

The three men went rapidly back to New York, flying 
high above the surface of the Earth, nearly sixty miles 
above the ground, where there would be no interfering 
traffic, till at last they were over New York, and drop- 
ping swiftly in a vertical traffic lane. 

They reached the road of the Arcot Laboratories with- 
out any difficulty, and settled the machine lightly in the 
landing cradle. Areot’s father, and Morey’s, were there, 
anxiously awaiting their return. The elder Arcot had 
for many years held the reputation of being the nation’s 
greatest physicist, but recently he had lost it — to his 
son. Mr. Morey senior was the president and chief 
stockholder in the Transcontinental Air Lines. The 
Arcots, father and son, had turned all their inventions 
over to their close friends, the Moreys. For many years 
the success of the great air lines had been dependent 
really on the inventions of the Arcots; these new dis- 
coveries allowed them to be always one step ahead of 
competition, and as they also made the huge transport 



machines for other companies, they drew tremendous 
profit from these mechanisms. The mutual interest, 
which began as a pure business relation, had long become 
a close personal friendship. 

Now, as the shining ship drew near, and settled swift- 
ly to the landing cradle, the old friends ran forward 
together. They had learned of the attack through their 
sons, and had rushed to the laboratory, for the news was 
not to be made public immediately. 

As Arcot stepped out of his car, he called over to his 
father, telling them about his find, the light-matter 
plate. 

“I think I’ll need a handling machine to move it. I 
want to get one, but I’ll be right back.” He ran to the 
elevator shaft and dropped quickly to the heavy machin- 
ery lab. on the bottom floor, where he got a small han- 
dling machine, a tractor-like machine with a small der- 
rick, designed to get its power from the electric mains. 
With a length of cable coiled on the back, of the little 
machine, Arcot ran it on to the elevator, cast loose the 
power cable, and ran the car swiftly up to the roof again. 
Here he connected to the power line by means of the 
long cable, for there were connections here, designed for 
the handling machines. Then he ran the little machine 
over to the car, where Wade and Morey were struggling 
to get the plate into a more advantageous position. They 
looked up as they heard the rumble and hum of the 
powerful little machine. From the crane dangled a 
strong electro-magnet. 

“What’s that for? You don’t expect this to be mag- 
netic do you?” asked Wade, pointing to the magnet. 

“Wait and see!” laughed Arcot, maneuvering the 
machine into position. Soon the crane reached into the 
car, and lowered the magnet on the plate of crystal. 
Then slowly he turned the power into the magnet. In a 
moment the plate had set itself firmly on the magnet. 
Then slowly Arcot turned the power into the lifting 
motor. The hum rose swiftly till the full load began to 
come on the cables. Then suddenly the motor was whin- 
ing with full power, the cables vibrating under the ten- 
sion. The machine pulled steadily, then, to Arcot’s sur- 
prise, the rear end of the machine rose slowly from the 
ground, tipping forward as the load came on the 
front end. 

“Well — it was magnetic, but how did you know?” 
asked the surprised Wade. Since the ship had been 
made of the gleaming, only slightly magnetic Venerian 
metal, coronium, the plate was obviously the thing that 
was holding the magnet back. 

“Never mind — I’ll tell you later — jump on here and 
see if our combined weight won’t hold the end down. I 
think we ought to be able to manage it,” replied Arcot, 
smiling at the puzzled expression on his friend’s face. 

As the three big men sat on the end of the little ma- 
chine, the leverage was great enough to pull the plate 
from the floor; then they quickly backed the machine 
out, and ran it over to the elevator, where they lowered 
the heavy plate. Disconnecting the cable, the five men 
entered the car, and rode down to Arcot’s private labora- 
tory. Here the handling machine was again brought 
into play, and the plate was unloaded from the car. 

“I’m with Wade in wondering how you knew the 
plate was magnetic, son. I can accept your explanation 
that the stuff is a species of matter made of light, but I 
know you too well to think it was just a lucky guess. 
How did you know?” asked the elder Arcot. 

“I really had to rather guess at this, Dad, though there 
was some reason in my guess. You ought to be able to 
think of it! How about you, Morey?” asked Arcot 
smiling at his friend. 

“I have kept discreetly quiet, feeling that in silence I 
could not betray my ignorance, but if you ask me, I can 



510 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



only guess. I do recall that light is affected by a power- 
ful magnet, and I can imagine that that was the basis 
of your guess,” replied Morey. “It had been known for 
many years, as far back as Clerk Maxwell, that polar- 
ized light was rotated by a powerful magnet.” 

“It was — and now we may as well go over the whole 
story, and tell Dad and your father the whole case, and 
perhaps in telling it we can straighten out our own ideas 
a bit.” 

F OR the next hour the three men talked by# turns, each 
telling his story, and trying to give some explana- 
tion of it, but in the end they all agreed on one thing: 
if they were to fight the enemy, they must have ships 
that could travel swiftly in space. 

“But I wonder if Arcot will now kindly explain his 
famous invisible light, or the lost star?” said Morey 
rather sarcastically. He was a bit nettled by his own 
slowness in remembering the fact that a star could 
go black. 

“I cannot see what connection this has with their sud- 
den attack. If they were there, they must have developed 
when that star was bright, and as a star requires sev- 
eral million years to cool down, I can’t see how they 
could suddenly appear in space.” 

Arcot paused before answering. He reached into the 
drawer of his desk beside him, and pulled out an old 
briar-root pipe, and carefully filled it, with a thoughtful 
frown on his face. Contentedly he lit it, then leaning 
back, he puffed out a thin column of grey smoke that 
rose straight into the air. 

“Those men must have developed on their planets 
before the sun cooled.” He puffed slowly. “They are, 
then, a race millions, even billions, of years old. I had 
a hunch that that was so. I can not give any scientific 
reason for this feeling; it was merely an impression I 
had. It may have been induced by my beliefs, but I 
had a feeling that those men were old, older than our 
very planet ! This little globe is not much over one bil- 
lion years old. I felt that that race was so very ancient 
they might well have counted the revolutions of this 
galactic system as, once every twenty or thirty million 
years, it swung about its center. 

“When I looked at those great machines, and those 
little men as they handled their ray projectors, they 
seemed out of place. That is the only way I can express 
that feeling.” He paused again, and the slow 7 smoke 
drifted up. 

“They seemed to me to be # a group of ancient Greeks 
in a great modern interplanetary liner. Out of place. 
They were intelligent, learned in their w r ay, but they did 
not seem scientists, and it did not seem that they should 
be handling death ray projectors. It seemed to me that 
they were a peaceful race. I was surprised when I 
heard that they had resisted the attempt to arbitrate, 
until I heard the details of it. I think this war might 
have been avoided at that, but for one little slip ! The 
operator of the Terrestrial peace-ship attempted to sig- 
nal the Invaders to land, and he used .a searchlight. 
They were nervous; they were investigating a strange 
system and they saw a beam of some vibration, they 
could not tell what, coming at them. In self-defense 
they struck back. They did not know it was light, and 
they did not dare to wait and find out. It might not 
have been ; I can understand their fears. 

“It must have been millions of years ago that life 
developed on those planets, the planets of a warm sun, 
for then it was younger. It was probably .rather dim 
even then. Remember that our own sun is well above 
the average in brilliance and heat radiation. 

“In those long-gone ages I can imagine a race much 
like ours developing, different chemically, in their atmos- 



phere of hydrogen, but the chemical body is not what 
makes a race, it is the thought process. They must have 
developed, and then, as their science grew, their sun 
waned. Dimmer and dimmer it must have grown, till 
at last their planets would not maintain their life 
naturally. Then they had to heat them artificially. 
There is no doubt as to their source of pow 7 er; they 
had to use the energy of matter; there is no other 
source great enough to do their work. The atomic 
energy of radium would not begin to do the task. It is 
conceivable that their science had developed this long 
before their necessity came. 

“With this, must also have come the process of trans- 
mutation, and the process they use in driving their Inter- 
stellar cruisers. I am sure those machines are driven 
by material energy. 

“But at last their star w 7 as black, a closed star, and 
their cold, black planets must circle a hot, black sun 
forever ! They knew that they were trapped for 
eternity if they did not escape to some other stellar 
system. They could not travel as fast as light, and they 
could escape only if they found some other near-by solar 
system. Their star was dead — black. Let us call that 
star Nigra — The* Black One. They were invisible as 
their system swept near ours in space. But all these 
changes, leading to this last opportunity, must have 
taken many, many millenniums. We can imagine the 
race living in their artificially heated worlds, with arti- 
ficial foods probably, and the millions of stars above 
them — nothing to do, and no reason to work. They 
would deteriorate rapidly. I am sure that this was the 
fate of the race, for these men did not seem to me like 
men who would develop the giant ships they rode in. 
It is only a feeling, I would not give that as an official 
opinion, I merely tell you of my impressions. I am 
certain, however, that the race would deteriorate under 
the conditions I named. 

“But now they have met with a rare coincidence. 
They have actually come near another sun. They 
naturally have every intention of taking advantage of 
it, and since our sun has been plainly visible to them 
for many, many years, they were no doubt able to pre- 
pare. I believe that this expedition was just intended 
as exploration, and if they can send such huge ma- 
chines and so many of them, for mere exploration, I 
am sure they must have quite a fleet to fight with. 

“Let us consider the weapons they will have. 

“We know they have that death ray, but that was not 
quite as deadly as we might have feared, solely because 
our ships could outmaneuver them. Next time they will 
come with a huge fleet of little ships, and they will be a 
real enemy. We must build a larger fleet, and w 7 e can 
see if the other men have discovered the secret of the 
projector. Unfortunately, we could not spend more time 
on those ships, because they were huge gas bombs, and 
became more explosive each second. tVe had to leave, 
and we were sure to find little in so short a time. We 
must investigate what we have learned.” 

“Well, I had a very unique experience with the death 
ray,” said Arcot, as he looked at his right arm. “Cer- 
tainly few people that felt it lived to tell about it. I 
have been thinking the mechanism over, and trying to 
discover possibilities. I think I know what the system 
is. 

“You are all familiar with the catalytic effects of 
light. Hydrogen and chlorine will stand very peace- 
fully in the same jar for a long time, and yet, let a 
strong light fall on them, and a catalytic effect takes 
place. They combine with terrific violence. This is 
the catalytic effect of a vibration, a wave motion. 

“Then we have another form of catalysis. We have 
such things as benzaldehyde, which will oxidize if 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



511 



standing in the air, and crystallize out as benzoic acid, 
yet if just a trace of certain other phenyl compounds 
are present, the reaction is quite completely stopped. 
This is an example of negative catalysis. It certainly 
takes no genius to think of combining the two ideas, 
though it is, of course, considerably less easy to do 
than to think of. I believe that is the principle of the 
Nigrian death ray; they simply stop the chemical reac- 
tions of a living body, and these are so delicately bal- 
anced that the least resistance will upset them. Just 
see how closely the temperature ranges must be main- 
tained. The human body must maintain the tempera- 
ture of the brain, and the main nervous system within 
four or five degrees, or death ensues. 

"The Nigrians merely project a ray at their ene- 
mies, and the body changes are halted, which makes 
death instantaneous and painless.” 

A RCOT halted, and sat puffing furiously a moment; 

, in his discourse, the pipe had died down to an 
ember, and now he was trying vigorous puffing to re- 
store it. At last he had it going and continued. 

“What other weapons they may have we cannot say. 
The secret of invisibility must be very old to them. 
But we will guard against the possibility by equipping 
our ships against it. The only reason the patrol ships 
aren t equipped already is that the invisibility is use- 
less with modern criminals; they all know the secret 
and how to fight it.” 

Arcot referred to the invisibility apparatus that had 
been invented by Wade — a system of rendering any 
material perfectly transparent by impressing on it tre- 
mendously high frequency electric impulses. It was 
discovered as early as 1925 that the plate of a radio 
tube became invisible when working on very short 
waves. This idea, amplified to the dimensions of the 
patrol ships, would make them, and everything in them, 
perfectly transparent. The invisible ship could, how- 
ever, be located by using a short wave radio receiving 
set. The directorial set gave an easy method of lo- 
cating its position, and by projecting a short wave 
beam in the same direction, the two wave forms — 
that which was making the ship invisible, and that 
which the attacker was using — fought each other, and, 
if the attacker could apply more power than the invis- 
ible one, the invisible ship was made visible. In any 
case it was readily located, and an application of lumi- 
nous paint to the invisible ship made it permanently 
visible, for a perfectly transparent ship is not invisible 
if it shines. The patrol carried invisibility detectors, 
and luminous paint bombs, but not the invisibility 
apparatus.” 

Arcot was puffing steadily at his pipe now, appar- 
ently waiting for questions, but each seemed so busy 
with his own thoughts, stirred up by Arcot’s speech, 
that they remained quiet for some time. Finally Morey 
spoke up: 

“Arcot, we certainly have to get out into space 
somehow to fight them, but how are we going to do 
it? I was wondering if we could use Wade’s system 
of storing the atomic hydrogen in solution. That yields 
about 100,000 calories for every two grams, and since 
this is a method of storing heat energy, and your 
mplecular motion director is a method of converting 
heat into mechanical work with 100 per cent efficiency, 
why not use that? All we need, really, is a method 
of storing heat energy for use while we are in space.” 
Arcot was silent a moment before answering. 

"I thought of that, and I have been trying to think 
of other and, if possible, better and cheaper and quicker 
ways of getting the necessary power. 

"Let us eliminate all the known sources one by one. 



The usual ones, the ones men have been using for cen- 
turies, go out at once. The atomic hydrogen reaction 
stores more energy per gram than any other chemical 
reaction known. But there are other ways of storing 
it. Let us take into account all known ways. First 
there is the storage battery, which is nothing but a 
chemical reaction. Next is the electro-static con- 
denser, but that does not store any great amount of 
energy if a practical voltage is used, and there are 
mechanical difficulties. Then comes the induction coil, 
which stores electro-magnetic energy. That is far bet- 
ter than the condenser, but it is a method of storing 
energy in a rather kinetic form, you must maintain 
the current flowing in it. There is one more form. 
We must rule out plain heat storage; it is too ineffi- 
cient. The only other method of storing energy is 
the method used by the Kaxorians in driving their 
huge planes. They used condensed light-energy. This 
was efficient to the ultimate maximum, something no 
other method can hope to attain. We know that mass 
is a measure of the energy stored, and in their method 
they took light, and condensed it, storing its energy by 
binding one photon to the next through gravitational 
attraction between individual photons. The ultimate 
maximum is the amount of energy one gram repre- 
sents, being fully capable of release, and in this case 
they got the full four hundred and fifty thousand mil- 
lion million million ergs per pound out of their fuel, 
but they didn’t need more than a pound of fuel all told 
in those planes. Yet they had huge reservoirs that were 
needed to store it. The result was still ineffective for 
our purpose ; we want something we can put in a small 
space; we want to condense the light still further, but 
that will be the ideal form of energy storage, for then 
we will be able to release it directly as a heat ray, and 
so use it with the utmost efficiency. I think we can 
absorb the released energy in the usual cavity radiator,” 
said Arcot meditatively. 

“That’s true; I think that is best, but there is still 
the difficulty that we can’t get the power storage appa- 
ratus condensed enough. It was the greater flexibil- 
ity of the small ship that permitted us to win so read- 
ily, remember that. The big apparatus would make it 
very much more cumbersome. 

“Then too, there is a second consideration. All that 
energy has to be gotten from sunlight, practically, 
and you have to ‘charge the batteries,’ as with any 
other kind of a storage device. It would require so 
long to get the energy collectors built that we would not 
be fully prepared when the Nigrians return for some 
more playing. I wonder how long their star is going 
to be near us?” said Morey junior. 

“I thought of the difficulty of storage. I was wonder- 
ing about the time limit also, and I believe we can 
solve both, and, into the bargain, have a little laugh at 
our enemies. What we want is to have that light stored 
in a more condenser form, a form that is naturally 
stable, and does not need to be held bound, but requires 
urging to release. I was wondering — ” Arcot paused, 
smiling questioningly at his audience. 

“Oh — Ho — Ha — say that’s rare! Whoo — I have to 
hand it to you — That takes all prizes — have the laugh 
on our enemies is right!” Wade was laughing so hard 
he could scarcely speak! In puzzled wonder Morey and 
the two older men looked at him, and at Arcot who 
who was grinning broadly. 

“Well, it must be funny, but — Oh — I see — say that 
is good! I see what he means, Dad!” exclaimed Morey 
turning to his father. 

“The light-matter windows we found in the enemy 
machines contain enough bound light-energy to run all 
the planes we could make in the next ten years! We 
are going to have the enemy supply us with the power 



512 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



we can’t get in any other way ! I think you do take all 
prizes for ingenuity, Arcot!” 

Dr. Arcot senior smiled at first, then looked dubiously 
at his son. 

“I can see that there is plenty of energy stored there, 
but, as you said, the energy needs considerable en- 
couragement to break free. How do you expect to do 
that, Son?” 

“I have an idea. I don’t know how it will work, but 
we can try.” Arcot puffed at his pipe, rather serious 
now, as he thought of the problems ahead. 

“But Arcot,” asked Wade curiously, “how do you 
suppose they condense that light energy in the first 
place, and, their sun being dead, whence all the light? 
I suppose it is from the energy of matter, is it not?” 

“I think they break up matter for its energy, 
but of course I can’t say. However, I don’t know where 
else they could get all that energy. As to the conden- 
sation problem, I think I have a possible solution of 
that too; also the same solution applies to the problem 
of release. We haven’t the secret of releasing material 
energy, but I think we will have before this war is 
over, if we have anything at all! There is that pos- 
sibility!” he smiled at them. It was quite possible 
that man would have neither the secret of material 
energy, nor the sun, nor life, but there was consider- 
able hope just now. “In any case, we won’t need to 
worry about that for a while.” 

“How do you think they got their energy loose? 
Do you think those big blocks of pure silver had any- 
thing to do with it?” asked Wade. 

“Why, yes, I do think they had something to do with 
it. Those blocks of silver were probably designed to 
carry away the power once it was released. The re- 
lease was accomplished in some way mysterious to me. 
They solved the greatest problem of the work. You 
can’t light a fire on a barrel of gunpowder very safely. 
They couldn’t use material apparatus to start their re- 
lease of material energy, the material of the apparatus 
might ‘catch fire’ too. They had to have the disinte- 
grating matter held apart from all other matter. This 
was quite impossible, if you were going to get the 
energy away by any method, other than by the use of 
fields of force. I don’t think that is the method. My 
guess is that a terrific current of electricity would ac- 
complish it if anything would. 

“How then are we going to get the current to it? 
The wires will be subject to the same currents. What- 
ever they do to the matter under consideration, the 
currents will do to the apparatus — except in one case. 
If that apparatus is made of some other kind of matter, 
then it won’t be affected. The solution is obvious. 
Take some of the light-matter. What will destroy 
light-matter, won’t destroy electricity-matter ; and 
what will destroy electricity-matter, won’t disturb light- 
matter. 

“TAO you remember the platform of light-metal, 
\-J clear as crystal? It must have been exceedingly 
heavy, too ! That was no doubt an insulating platform. 
What we started as our assumptions in the case of the 
light-metal, we can now carry further. We said that 
electricity-metals carried electricity, so light-metals 
would carry, or conduct light. Now we know that there is 
no substance which is transparent to light, that will carry 
electricity by metallic conduction. I mean, of course, 
there is no substance transparent to light, and at the same 
time capable of carrying electricity by electronic trans- 
mission. We have, of course, things like NaCl solutions 
in ordinary H 2 0 which will carry electricity, but here 
it is by ionic conduction. Even glass will carry electric- 
ity very well when hot; when red hot, glass will carry 
enough electricity to melt it very quickly. But here is 



just an illustration that glass is not a solid, but a 
viscous liquid, and it is again carried by ionic conduc- 
tion. Iron, copper, silver, sodium, lead, ail metals carry 
the current by means of electron drift through the 
solid substance. In such cases we can see that no 
transparent substance conducts electricity. Take sul- 
phur, one of the best insulators in the world; it will 
not conduct electricity, but a sulphur crystal is beauti- 
fully transparent. 

“Similarly the reverse is true. No substance capable 
of carrying electricity by metallic conduction is trans- 
parent. They are all opaque, if in any thickness. Of course 
gold is transparent, but only in leaf when it is so thin 
that it won’t conduct ! The peculiar condition we reach 
in the case of the invisible ship is different. There the 
effects are brought about by the high frequency im- 
pressed. But you get my point. 

“Do you remember those wires that we saw leading 
to that little box of the reflecting material? So per- 
fectly reflecting it was that we didn’t see it. We only 
saw where it must be ; we saw the light it reflected. That 
was no doubt light-matter, a light-matter, non-metal, 
and as such, non-conductive to light. Like sulphur, 
an electric non-metal, it reflected the base of which it 
was formed. Sulphur reflects electricity and passes 
light. This light-non-metal did the same sort of thing; 
it reflected light, and passed electricity. It was a con- 
ductor. 

“Now we have the things we need, the matter to 
disintegrate, and the matter to hold the disintegrating 
material in. We have two different types of matter. 
The rest was obvious, but decidedly not easy. They 
have done it though, and after the war is over, there 
will still be many machines floating around in space, 
and I am sure we will be able to learn the secret of 
material energy.” 

“Well, Son, I hope you do. But I know that it is 
time you got working on your problem, since I am 
officially retired, I am going down stairs. You know 
I am working in my laboratory with a young man 
by the name of Norris, and I think we have a method 
for increasing the range and power of your projector 
for the molecular motion field. I will show you our math, 
later, you know there has been little development work 
done along that line since you did your hurried work 
on Venus. You had only the simplest kind of calculating 
machine, and I think we can do a bit better.” 

“I don’t know! Remember that they have been try- 
ing to develop that,” replied the elder Morey, “but they 
did such a good job when they did do it, that no one 
else has improved it since.” ' 

“Yes, Dad, what Morey here can do with a simple 
calculating machine, is a lot more than most scientists 
can do on a new Brandes-Monsun! I think you prob- 
ably can improve on it, but you will find that he did a 
good job!” said Arcot junior. Morey was permanently 
attached to the three because of his keen mathematical 
ability. He was able to develop the mathematical facts 
along the lines Arcot suggested with amazing rapidity, 
and great ingenuity. He was probably better qualified 
to convert a mathematical expression into a physical 
law than any other man in the world. Arcot could see 
the basic laws, and sketch the physical background, but 
Morey filled in the gaps with mathematical proof. Wade 
found his field in chemistry, though his knowledge of 
physics was decidedly above par. 

“In any case, I think we had best get started on our 
work! It means a lot to save even twenty minutes 
today!” 

The party broke up — the three younger men staying 
in their own laboratory, while Dr. Arcot senior went 
down to his laboratories. 

“Oh, Mr. Morey,” called o it Arcot, “before you leave. 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



513 



I want to ask you if you can spare Fuller again, since 
you have finished the work on the molecular motion 
fleet, I am sure he will be able to help a lot here, and 
it is really his right to design the first of these new 
space ships!” 

Fuller had been with these men in each of their ad- 
ventures since the original development of the molec- 
ular motion ship. He had designed the first of them, 
the first little ship that had shown the power of the 
molecules in motion, and he had designed the first Air 

Liner working on a new principle. He had drawn up 

the plans for the “Solarite,” the first interplanetary 
ship of the system. Certainly he had every right to 
be “in on” this new advance. Mr. Morey, for whom 
Fuller had been designing the fleet of molecular mo- 
tion ships, gladly gave his approval. The foremost de- 
signer of the country, he should certainly be working 
with these men, the foremost scientists of the country, 
if not of the system. 

After they had left, Arcot suggested that Wade and 
Morey start attacking that plate of crystal, in an at- 
tempt to tear off a small piece, on which they might 
work. In the meantime he went into the televisophone 
room and started to put through a call. He wished to 
get in touch with the Tychos observatory, the great 
observatory that had so recently been established on 
the frigid surface of the little dead world, the Moon. 
The huge mirror, ten feet in diameter, allowed of im- 
mense magnification here, and stellar observations 
were greatly facilitated, for no one bothered them, and 
the “seeing” was always good. 

However, the great distance was rather a handicap 
to the ordinary televisophone stations, and all calls put 



through to it had to be made tarough the powerful 
sending station in St. Louis, where all interplanetary 
messages were sent and received, while that side of the 
Earth was facing the station, and from Constantinople, 
when that city faced the destination. These stations 
could bridge the distance readily and clearly. 

For several mintutes Arcot waited while the con- 
nections were being established for the Moon; then 
for many more minutes he talked earnestly with the 
observer in this distant stations, and at last satisfied, he 

hung up. 

For some time he had outlined his ideas concerning 
the Black Star to the men in charge ; then he had asked 
that they investigate the possibilities, and see if they 
could find any noticeable effects on the planets. 

Finally he returned to where his friends had been 
working on the crystal plate. Wade had a most de- 
cidedly exasperated expression on his face, and Morey 
was grinning broadly. 

“Hello Arcot — you missed all the fun! You should 
have seen Wade here working on that plate!” The 
plate had, in his absence, been twisted and bent, show- 
ing that it had undergone some terrific stresses. Having 
some idea of the strength of the material, Arcot could 
appreciate what forces must necessarily have been 
used. Now Wade began to make certain remarks about 
the properties of the plate in language that was not 
exactly scientific. It was more the language of a me- 
chanic who has just released the power of the molec- 
ular director ray of his machine, only to discover it does 
not work, and that his last two hours’ labor proved 
fruitless. 

“Why, Wade, you don’t seem to like that stuff. Per- 
haps the difficulty lies in your treatment, 
rather than in the material itself. I 
think I can show you how to do it. 
What have you tried?” 

“Everything ! I took a coronium hack 
saw that will eat through molybdenum 
steel like so much cheese, and it just 
wore its teeth off. I tried some of those 
diamond rotary saws you have, attached 
to a small electric motor, and it wore 
out the diamonds. That got my goat, 
so I tried using a little force. I put 
it in the tension testing machine, and 
clamped it — the clamp was good for 
10,000,000 pounds — but it began to bend, 
so I had to quit. Then Morey held it 
with a molecular ray, and I tried twist- 
ing it. You know it gave me real pleas- 
ure to see that thing yield under the 
pressure. But it is not brittle; it merely 
bends. 

“And I can’t cut it, or even get some 
shavings off the darned thing. You 
said you wanted to make a Jolly balance 
determination of the specific gravity, but 
that stuff is so dense you would need 
only a tiny scrap, and I can’t break 
that loose!” Wade looked at the thing 
in greatest disgust. He would have 
liked to kick it, but he knew it was 
heavy, and very hard, so he did not. 

Arcot smiled at him; he could under- 
stand his feeling, for the stuff certainly 
was stubborn with any tools they had in 
their command. “I’m sorry I didn’t warn 
you fellows about that, but I was so 
anxious to get that call through that I 
forgot to tell you how I expected to 
make it more workable. Now, if Wade 
will get another one of those diamond- 




II e wished to get in touch with the Tychos observatory, . . . that 
had so recently been established on the frigid surface of the little 
dead world, the Moon, 



514 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



tooth rotary saws, I’ll get something that may help. 
Please put the rotary saw on the air motor. Use the 
one made of coronium.” 

W ADE looked after the rapidly disappearing Arcot 
in rather considerable surprise, then, scratching 
his head, he turned and started to do as Arcot had 
asked. 

Arcot returned in about five minutes with a small 
handling machine, and a huge magnet. It must have 
weighed nearly half a ton and looked quite capable of 
changing the north magnetic pole of the earth. This 
he quickly connected to the heavy duty power lines of 
the lab. Now, running the handling machine into po- 
sition, he quickly hoisted the bent and twisted plate 
to the poles of the big magnet, with the aid of the 
derrick. 

Then he backed the handling machine out of the 
way, and finally returned on foot. 

“Now, we’ll see whether or not we are going to win 
this war!” said Arcot, smiling a bit. He stepped over 
to the big magnet and switched on the current. At once 
a terrific magnetic flux was set up through the light- 
metal. Then he took the little compressed air saw, and 
applied it to the crystal plate. The smooth hiss of the 
air deepened to a whine as the load came on it, then 
the saw was scraping on the hard plate. 

To Wade’s surprise and joy he saw the little diamond- 
edged saw bite its way slowly but steadily into the 
heavy plate. In a moment it had cut off a little corner 
of the light-matter, and this fell with a heavy thud to 
the magnet pole, drawn down both by the attraction of 
the magnet and"by gravity. 

Arcot at once shut off the magnet, and stepped back. 
Then he picked up a pair of pliers, and gripped the 
little chunk of light-metal. 

“Whew — this may be light-metal, but it certainly 
is not light metal! I think this little scrap weighs 
nearly ten pounds ! We will have to reduce it consider- 
ably before we can use it. I think we can handle it 
now though!” 

By using the magnet and several large diamond face- 
plates, gotten from the great diamond mines on the 
moon, they were able to work the tough material down 
to a thin sheet ; then, with a heavy press, they cut some 
very small fragments, and with these, determined the 
specific gravity. 

As Wade watched the little plates of light-metal 
spread out under the hard diamond face-plates, and 
flattening nicely he looked at them in wonder. He 
seemed surprised that anything could be done with 
the material. 

“Arcot,” he began at last, “just how does that magnet 
make that stuff tractable? I can see how it might 
attract it, but I am not physicist enough to see how it 
can soften it. It may release some of the binding grav- 
itation, but I know that magnetic and gravitational 
fields, while Einstein has shown that they are similar, 
are not identical, and they aren’t mutually influential. 
Now I don’t see how this affects the stuff.” 

“I wasn’t sure it would, but it was somewhat of a 
hunch. The reason it will affect it, is, that the light-mat- 
ter in every photon is affected by the magnetism, and 
every photon is given a new motion. That stuff can 
be made to go with the speed of light, you know. It is 
the only solid that could be so affected. This stuff would 
be able, with the - aid of a molecular motion beam, 
which will make all the photons move in parallel paths, 
to move at the full speed of each photon, 186,000 miles 
a second. The tremendous speed of these individual 
photons is what makes the material so hard. Their 
kinetic impulse is rather considerable! It is the kinetic 
blow that the molecules of a metal give that keeps other 



metals from penetrating it. This simply gave such ter- 
rific impulses that even diamonds wouldn’t cut it. Now 
you know that an iron saw will cut platinum very 
readily, yet if they are both heated to a temperature 
of say, 1600 degrees, the iron is a liquid, and the 
platinum very soft, but now it cuts through the iron 
readily! The heat softens them. 

“Heat will probably have no effect at all on this, 
but the effect of the magnet on the individual photons 
corresponds to the effect of the heat on the individual 
atoms and molecules. The mass is softened, and we can 
work it. I think that is the explanation ; that, at least, 
is the reason for my original belief that I could soften 
the stuff electro-magnetically. 

“But Wade, I wish you would see if you can get the 
density of this stuff. You are more used to those de- 
terminations and that type of manipulation than we are. 
When you get through, we may be able to show you 
some results also!” 

Wade picked up a tiny chip of the light-metal, and 
started off toward his own laboratory. Here he set up 
his Jolly balance, and set to work on the tiny fragment. 
His results amazed him. The readings on the delicate 
spring when in water, and when out, were so vastly 
different, it seemed incredible that a substance could 
be so dense. At last he returned to the main lab, 
where Arcot and Morey were working rapidly at a 
large, and complicated electro-static apparatus. 

“What did you find?” called out Arcot, as he saw 
Wade enter the room. “Tell us your results, and in the 
meantime lend a hand here, will you? I have a labora- 
tory scale apparatus of the type the Kaxorians used in 
the storage of light. It has been known to them, ever 
since they began the work on it, that their machines 
would release the energy with more than normal vio- 
lence, if certain changes were made in it. That is, 
the light condenser, the piece of apparatus that stored 
the photons so close to each other, would also serve 
to urge them apart. I have made the necessary changes in 
the apparatus, and I am now trying to set it up to work 
on solid light-matter. The machine was developed for 
gaseous light-matter, and it is a little hard to change it 
over. I think we will have it in a minute. Wade, will 
you connect that to the high frequency oscillator there 
—no — through the counterbalanced condenser there. 
We may have to change the oscillatory frequency quite 
a bit, but I think we can do it. What results did you 
get?” 

“I don’t know whether to trust the results or not,” 
was the answer. “I think we had best use the regular 
volume and weight method rather than the Jolly bal- 
ance. Of course the stuff must be heavy — but I still 
think — well, anyway, I got a density of about 103.5 !” 

“Whewww — 103.5! Lord! That is almost five times 
as heavy as the heaviest metal hitherto known, osmium 
is about 22, isn’t it? That makes osmium about ten 
times as heavy as aluminum, and over twenty-five 
times as heavy as sodium metal. Certainly there is 
no good reason why we shouldn’t have a substance 
four times as heavy as it! A hundred and twenty or 
thirty times as heavy as postassium and sodium! 

“There was about half a cubic foot of the material, 
too; that would mean about 4000 pounds for the whole 
mass, or two tons. There is good reason why we 
couldn’t lift the plate !” The men had all stopped their 
work on the apparatus to discuss the amazing results 
of the density test, but now they fell to again, rapidly 
assembling the apparatus, for each was a trained ex- 
perimenter, and though Wade usually devoted his time 
to chemistry, since in this group he shone better in 
that field, nevertheless, he was a brilliant physicist, 
and he would easily have been able to hold his own in 
most scientific gatherings. 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



515 



“I thinK we will have enough urge t,o disintegrate 
right here, but I want to make sure, and so, before 
we set up the case over it, I think. we rniay as well put 
that big magnet in place, and have it there to help in 
the work of disintegration, if need be,” suggested 
Arcot, and so they placed the heavy mass as quickly 
as possible, the little handling imachine swinging it 
into place for them. 

A I last the complete apparatus was set up, and the 
tiny bit of light-matte r they were to work on was 
set up on the table of a powerful Atchinson projector 
microscope, the field -of view being in the exact center 
o: the field of both the magnet and the coil. 

“Well, we are. ready,” said Arcot, as he placed the 
projector screen in position, and dimmed the lights 
in the room;. A touch of the switch, and the projection 
screen was. illuminated with the enlarged image of 
the tiny sci’ap of light-metal. “Now let’s see what hap- 
pens. T/nere is the obvious possibility that instead of 
releasing the energy gradually as I expect, it will do 
it all at once, and we will have a beautiful little ex- 
plosion!. I should say it would be intense enough to 
wreck - the three top floors of the building. That 
probalbly weighs three milligrams. 

“Before starting this experiment, I called up 
Dr. planning, of Chicago, and told him what I was 
doinig. He knows the line of research, so if anything 
happens to us, the work will not be greatly delayed. 
Herts goes!” 

Alrcot placed his hand on the switch, and smiling at 
his /friends, closed it. This put the powerful Arcot 
oscil lator tubes into action, and the power was ready for 
app/iication. 

iSlowly he closed the rheostat and put the power into 
the* coil. The little plate of metal on the slide seemed 
to tthrob a bit, and its outline grew hazy, but at last 
Apcot had full power on and the release was so slow 
as i to be imperceptible. “Guess we need the magnet 
after all; I’ll put it on this time,” Arcot said. 

He opened the coil circuit and closed the magnet 
circluit at half voltage, then again he increased the 
current through the rheostat. This time the plate 
throbbed quite violently, then suddenly it seemed like 
a bit of fiodine. The dense vapors suddenly began pour- 
ing from - it, and instantly those vapors became a 
blindingly, brilliant flood of light. Arcot had snapped 
open the Switch the moment he saw this display start, 
and it haid had little time to act, for the instant the 
circuit was opened it was forced to subside. But even 
in this ijnterval of time, the light aluminum screen had 
suddenly become limp and slumped down, molten! The 
room was unbearably hot and the men were nearly 
blinded; by the intensity of the light. 

“It works!” It works! That sure was hot too — 
it is roasting in here— open the window, will you 
Arcot! - ” yelled Wade. That display meant that Earth 
and Veihus would have space ships with which to fight 
space ships! There was reason for their joy! 

Though tijiey had made a great deal of progress al- 
ready, there ‘was still a great deal of development work 
to be done. Tihey must attain an accurate system of 
control for the release of the energy, and they must- 
have it under accurate and instantaneous control, a 
control they could trust to take care of the terrific 
energy at their disposal, for if it were to be used in a 
ship it must be practicality automatic. 

Fuller arrived later thafv afternoon and found the 
three friends already at /work in developing a more 
compact and scientific ajpparatus than the stray bits 
of apparatus that had gone into making that first re- 
lease mechanism. 

“And so you can see,” said Arcot, as he finished his 



explanation of progress so far, “we still have plenty 
of work for you to do. Fuller. I am now trying to 
find some data for you to work on, but I can tell you 
this: we will need a ship that has plenty of strength 
and plenty of speed. There will be the usual power 
plant, of course; the generators, the power-tube board, 
and the electro-magnetic relay controls for the regular 
molecular motion controls. Then, in addition, we must 
have the regular controls for the ray projector, and 
that too must wait a while, for Dad is working on a 
projector which has a range nearly twice as great as 
what we have developed heretofore. The main difficulty 
has been that the ray wouldn’t stay a ray, but spread 
out. He has gotten his director field so intense that 
the ray is nearly perfectly a cylinder, and not a cone. 

“Then we will have the driving units inside the 
ship now, for all our power will come from the energy 
of the light-matter. 

“There will be one new weapon, though. I suppose 
it won’t be exceedingly effective, for any polished sur- 
face reflects heat, but we can try using the beams of 
light we release from the light-matter as. a heat wave. 
What do you think about it, Morey?” 

“Well — to be frank, I don’t think much of it. I 
think it would be a waste of time and material to even 
install a heat ray. They would be far less efficient 
than our molecular motion ray. I think we had best 
just let them alone. I have been wondering how you 
expect to use the light energy, though; that is what 
the exact absorption mechanism will be, by which you 
expect to get the light energy transferred to the driving 
mechanism,” replied Wade. 

“I think the easiest way to do that is to use the 
ordinary cavity radiator type absorption chamber, that 
is 100 per cent efficient. The molecular ray being 100 
per cent efficient, that means we will have a perfect 
machine!” 

“Maybe so, Arcot,” interrupted the designing en- 
gineer, “but I don’t know all the physical terms you 
use!” 

“Well, a cavity radiator is a mechanism whereby all 
frequencies of radiation are emitted proportionately. 
You know, Fuller, there is no single substance that 
radiates in the ideal way. A black body will radiate all 
frequencies perfectly indiscriminately, just as it will 
absorb all frequencies indiscriminately. The ideal black 
body cannot be had, but we can see that a perfect ab- 
sorbing thing could be got at. What we want is a 
surface that will absorb all of every bit of light or heat 
or ultra-light that strikes it. Suppose we imagine the 
surface to be the surface of the hole in the neck of an 
earthenware jug. There is no surface there — it is a 
hole — but it fulfills all the other conditions, and acts 
as our imaginary surface would. It does, obviously, 
absorb everything that strikes it, for there is nothing 
to prevent it, and once inside, the chance of the light 
getting back out again is so infinitesimal that we can 
neglect it, for it is reflected and re-reflected from 
side to side. Each time the rough, dark surface takes 
its toll, and less light is left. In practically zero time, 
the light has been 100 per cent absorbed. Now I propose 
to absorb the energy for the ships in a big sort of 
thermos bottle, working on that idea. The fact that 
light will heat anything it strikes, is, of course, obvious, 
so what we will have will be a bottle-shaped cavity like 
this, with the neck here, and just in front of the neck 
a light-matter destruction apparatus, which will send 
all the released light energy into the cavity. The 
cavity itself will be painted black inside. We will use 
some rough black surface and this will absorb all the 
light energy, immediately converting it into heat 
energy. That is, the steel bottle here will become very 
warm if left undisturbed, but the steel bottle will be 



516 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



double, and wo can have a considerable quantity of 
helium in the space between the double walls of the 
‘thermos bottle.’ The gas will be on the field of the 
molecular motion director and will be very cold, and 
will promptly absorb the heat of the steel bottle; thus 
our driving unit is ready ! 

“We will need one main horizontal unit for driving 
the ship forward or backward and for braking, and 
there will be three smaller vertical power units, con- 
trolled as usual, so we can have the desired angle of 
climb or vertical ascent, and three horizontal power 
units for turning and moving sideways. That makes 
one big and six small units. In space we will need all 
three dimensions equally, and so the sum-power of 
the three small ones must equal the power of the main 
horizontal driving unit. 

“Then there must be a generator aboard to generate 
the power for the power tube banks, and for the mag- 
net for releasing the light energy, as well as the 
electro-static oscillator. The generator will be of the 
usual type, driven by power units on the rim of the 
drive wheel, and these can be warmed by heating their 
atmosphere ; that will be easy enough. 

“There will also have to be heating devices for 
warming the ships, for they may have to go out into 
interstellar space. I have a notion we may pursue the 
Nigrians all the way to their home planets, to make 
sure they stay, right there until their star has passed 
entirely out of our region. At any rate, they must have 
heating devices to warm them when they are as far 
from the sun as old Neptune, and we certainly will 
have to go that far. It was all right for us to go with- 
out any heating apparatus in the Solarite for then we 
were as near, or nearer the sun than Earth is, and 
hence our temperature was maintained by the sun, 
but out there in space, the sun will be so far away that 
we won’t feel its rays, and if we do go to the Black 
Star, we will certainly feel the absence of heat. Of 
course, space has tremendously hot molecules in it. 
But there are so few molecules there that we won’t 
get any heat from them. That device will, however, 
be simple enough. 

“The ships must be capable of about six or seven 
thousand miles a second, and that implies all the ac- 
celeration a human being can endure. Since I expect 
to make long trips in them, I think we will do best if 
w T e make several types of ships. Three should suffice: 
a small single man cruiser, with no bunk or living 
quarters, just a little power plant and weapon. One 
that can jump out of the way of a ray so quickly that 
it will be very hard to hit, and at the same time, be- 
cause of its ray, be very dangerous. There will have to 
be some place for the operator of this ship to sleep and 
eat. I think the easiest way to solve that is to have 
a large fleet of mother ships — ships with a twenty-man 
crew, but still very active, and very deadly. These 
should have bunks and living quarters for the crew. 
Some men would be sleeping in the bunks all the time. 
The men could take turns running the one-man ships 
and sleeping. There will also be some ten-man scout 
cruisers. These will be used in the same way, but 
will have a smaller fleet of ships dependent on them. 

“We have as yet found no prospect of success in 
insulating against the death ray; their negative catal- 
ysis ray seems to pass right through metal if power- 
ful enough, as it evidently is in the ship projectors, but 
we can’t carry enough metal armor to stop it. I think 
our ray is more effective in any case. 

“But now let’s get back to work, and you can see 
what you can find, Fuller. I think you might call in 
the engineers of all the big machine manufacturers 
and have them ready to start work at once when the 
plans are finally drawn up. Their help will make the 



job quicker. You had best get in touch with all the 
Venerian men, ffoo. Those new works in Sorthol, Kaxor, 
will certainly hamdle a lot. 

“I suppose the Interplanetary Patrol men will want 
to have something to say, though they are usually pretty 
reasonable about taking the verdict of the scientists. 
They will have to b'e called in too, I suppose. You 
will have to wait to begin the actual work, but we 
will get our job done no w, just as quickly as we can.” 
As Arcot finished, he rose, and with Wade and Morey 
went toward the door. I biller at once agreed, and 
headed for the televisophone room. 

T HE three physicists at once smarted their work 
on determining the approximate Hectors that con- 
trolled the release of the energy. Accurate work could 
not be done at once, but four significant figv.res in their 
results were probably more than enough. 

Despite their utmost endeavor and the haj*d work of 
all the men of the two worlds, it was nearly s ix weeks 
before the fleet had grown to a thing of real im- 
portance. The tests they subjected the tiny s hips to 
had been more than satisfactory. They behaved won- 
derfully, shooting about at terrific speed, and wi th all 
the acceleration the men could stand. They ha d de- 
veloped a special Rocket Squad, a group of men with 
unusual ability to withstand the effect of the acc dera- 
tion, and this squad had immediately been given the 
new machines and had been put in training. They 
were able_ to move with terrific speed, and get tl lere 
before any other group. The strain was freqment 
enough to make the applicants become unconscious, but 
they quickly developed the muscles that had been un- 
used for so many ages, since man began to walk up- 
right, and they soon were able to stand even greater 
accelerations. This rocket squad was composed almost 
solely of Terrestrians, for they were used to the 
greater gravity of Earth, and could stand greater ac- 
celeration strains than could Venerians. 

The ships were each equipped with an invisibility 
locater, a sensitive short-wave directional receiver, 
that would permit the operator to direct his rayjs at 
invisible targets. The ships themselves could no t be 
made invisible, for they depended in their very 'prin- 
ciple on the absorption of light-energy. If tine walls 
of every part of the ship were perfectly transparent, 
they could absorb no energy at all, and tb.ey would 
still be plainly visible — even more so than before! 
They must remain visible, but they would a Iso force 
the enemy to remain visible. Each ten-mnn ship 
carried an old-fashioned cannon that was equipped to 
hurl canisters carrying the luminous paint. Tliey had 
decided that these would have advantages, even if the 
ships were not made invisible, for in space a vihip is 
visible only because it reflects or emits light. For 
this reason, the ships were not equipped witli any 
portholes except in the pilot room and in the olJserva- 
tion posts. No light could escape. To reduce the re- 
flection to the absolute minimum, the ships had each 
been painted with an absolutely black pigment. In 
space they would be exceedingly difficult targets. 

The heating effect of the sun on the black pigment 
when near the great star was rather disagreeably in- 
tense, and to cool the little ships they had installed 
molecular director power units, which absorbed the 
heat in acting to drive the ship. The dark surface 
also radiated far more rapid 1 .-/ than would a polished 
one, but they could easily warm their ships when too 
far from the sun. 

Each of the little ships, the' one-man machines, was 
equipped with a small machive-gun shooting luminous 
paint bullets. One of the^e bullets, landing on a 
machine, made it visible for’ at least two hours, and 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



517 



as they would cover an area of perhaps thirty square 
feet, they were decidedly effective. 

It was found that ray practice was rather compli- 
cated. The government had had ranges set up in the 
great mountain districts, away from any valuable prop- 
erty, but they soon found that even this was not 
enough. The rays very quickly demolished the targets, 
but they were not satisfied with that, and already 
showed very good progress toward demolishing the 
mountains as well. Since they had built all the ships 
with the molecular director ray only, training became 
a real problem. The few ships that had been made 
before the great war came, were not representative 
of the new ones, and they alone were equipped with the 
light-ray-training projectors. They could not afford 
to waste time making the light-projectors, so the 
problem was solved by using the barren surface of the 
moon and the little planetoids beyond Mars and Mars 
itself, as a proving ground. 

The trips out into the outer limits of the Solar Sys- 
tem were true trips of exploration, for these were the 
first ships to get so far from Earth. The slow-moving 
solar power ships were still struggling over the belt 
of asteroids in most cases. The terrific danger from 
the many little planets here had made it impossible 
to continue their outward course in the plane of the 
system, but had forced them to fly “above” it. The 
Solar System is like a great spinning wheel, all its 
parts lie in practically one plane and the planets revolve 
in orbits in that plane. The asteroids are in a flat 
ring about the sun, like the rings of Saturn, and all 
that was necessary to pass them was to leave the 
plane of the system and fly “above” them, dropping 
back to the plane on the other side of the menace. It 
was like passing a two-dimensional wall; just go over 
it in the third dimension. But this passing had been 
long and cold for the men in the solar power ships, 
and if anything went wrong with their power plant, 
they would be forced to remain there forever, for they 
would be caught in the orbit. 

T HE ships were sent out in squadrons as fast as 
the ships could be finished, and the men could be 
brought together and trained. They were establishing 
a great shield of ships across all that section of the 
system whence the Nigrians had appeared, and they 
hoped to intercept the next attack before it reached 
Earth, for they well knew that the next attack would 
be in full force. 

Arcot had gone to the conference held on Venus with 
the other men who had investigated the great wrecks, 
and each scientist had related his view of things and 
his ideas. Arcot’s idea of the black star was not very 
favorably received. As he had explained to Wade 
and Fuller, who had not gone, there was good reason 
for it. Though the scientists were all ready to admit 
that these men must have come from a great distance, 
and they agreed that they lived in an atmosphere of 
hydrogen, and judging from their pale skins, that 
they were not used to the rays of a sun, still they 
insisted on the theory of an outer planet of the sun. 

“You remember,” explained Arcot, “several years ago 
there was a considerable discussion about the existence 
of a planet still further out from the sun than Neptune. 
It is well known that there are a number of irregulari- 
ties in the orbits of the outer two planets that can’t 
seem to fall under the explanation applicable to the 
other planets, and an outer planet could be given the 
necessary mass and orbit to do the things they observe. 

“This attack from outer space was immediately 
taken as proof of that theory, and it was very easily 
supported, too. My one good point that stood for any 
length of time under their attacks was the fact that 



those ships weren’t developed in a year, nor a century, 
and that the chemical constitution of the men was so 
different. There were no new elements discovered, 
except the light-matter, but they are rather wondering 
about the great difference of earthly chemical con- 
stitution and the constitution of these invaders. 

“They had one argument that was just about enough 
to throw mine out, though they pointed to the odds 
against the thing happening. You know, of course, 
how a planet is formed? They are the results of tidal 
action on two passing suns. 

“You can imagine two mighty stars careening 
through space and then drawing slowly nearer, till at 
last they come within a few billion miles of each other, 
and their gigantic masses reach out and bind them 
with a mighty chain of gravity. Their titanic masses 
swing about each other, each trying to pull free, and 
continue its path about the center of the galactic 
system. But as their huge bulks come nearer, the chains 
that bind them become stronger and stronger, and the 
tremendous pull of the one gargantuan fire ball on the 
other raises titanic tides of flame, great streamers of 
gas shoot out into space, and all the space about is 
lighted by the flaming suns, their usual tremendous 
activity stirred up as by a giant poker, and even more 
fuel is heaped on their fires. The pull of gravity be- 
comes more and more intense, and as the one circles 
the other, the tide is pulled up, and the mighty ball 
of fire, which, for all its existence has been practically 
motionless as far as rotation goes, begins to acquire 
a greater and greater rotational speed as the tidal drag 
urges it on. The flames begin to reach higher and 
higher and the tides, now urged from the sun by cen- 
trifugal force, rise still greater, and as the swinging 
suns struggle to break loose, the flaming gas is pulled 
up and up, and becomes a mighty column of fire, a 
column that reaches out across three — four — a dozen 
millions of miles of space and joins the two stars at 
last, as the stalactites and stalagmites grow together. 
A flaming tie of matter joins them, two titanic suns, 
and a mighty rope of fire binds them, while far 
mightier chains of gravity hold them together. 

“But now their original velocity reasserts itself, and 
having spiraled about each other for who can say how 
long — a year — a million years seems more probable — 
but still only an instant in the life of a star, they begin 
to draw apart, and the flaming column is stretched 
out, and ever thinner it grows, and the two stars at 
last separate. But now the gas will never fall back 
into the sun. Like some giant flaming cigar it reaches 
out into space and it will stay thus, for it has been 
set in rotation about the sun at such a speed as is 
needed to form an orbit. The giant mass of gas is, 
however, too cool to continue to develop energy from 
matter, for it was only the surface of the sun, and cool. 
As it cools still further, there appear in it definite 
condensations, and the beginnings of the planets are 
there. The great filament that stretched from sun to 
sun was cigar-shaped, and so the matter is more plenti- 
ful toward the center, and larger planets develop. Thus 
Jupiter and Saturn are far larger than any of the 
others. The two ends are tapering, thus Earth is 
larger than Venus, which is larger than Mercury, and 
Uranus and Neptune are both smaller than Saturn. 

“Mars and the asteroids are hard to explain. Per- 
haps it is easier to understand when we remember 
that the planets thus formed must necessarily have 
been rotating in eccentric orbits when they were first 
born, and these planets came too near the sun while 
gaseous, or nearly so, and Mars lost much of its mat- 
ter, while the other, which now exists only as the 
asteroids, broke up. 

“But now that other flaming star has retired, wan- 



518 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




dering on through space. The star has left its traces, 
for behind it there are planets where none existed 
before. But remember that it, too, must have planets 
now. 

All this happened some 2,000 million years ago. 

“But in order that it might happen, it requires that 
two stars pass within the relatively short distance of 



a few billion miles of each other. Space is not over- 
crowded with matter, you know. The density of the 
stars has been compared with twenty tennis balls roam- 
ing about the 8,000-mile sphere that the Earth fills 
up — twenty tennis balls in some 270 billion cubic miles 
of space. Now imagine two of those tennis balls — • 
with plenty of room to wander in — passing within a 
few yards of each other. The chances are about as 
good as the chances of two stars passing close enough 
to make planets. 

“Now let us consider another possibility. 

“The Black Star, as I told you, has planets. That 
means that it must have thus passed close to another 
star. Now we have it coming close to another sun 
that has been similarly afflicted. The chances of that 
happening are inconceivably small. It is one chance 



The ships behind it, unable to stop so suddenly, 
piled up on it in chaotic wreckage! A vast halo of 
shining gas spread out fifty thousand miles about. 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



519 



in billions that the planets will form. Two stars must 
pass close to each other, when they have all space to 
wander about in. Then those afflicted stars separate, 
and one of them passes close by a new star, which has 
thus been similarly afflicted with that one chance in 
billions — well, that is then a chance in billions of 
billions. 

“So my theory was called impossible. I don’t know 
but what it is. Besides, I thought of an argument the 
other men didn’t throw at me. I’m surprised they 
didn’t too — the explanation of the strange chemical 
constitution of these men of a solar system planet would 
not be so impossible. It is quite possible that they 
live on a planet revolving about the sun which is, never- 
theless, a planet of another star. It is quite conceivable 
to me that the chemical constitution of Neptune and 
Uranus will be found to be quite different from that of 
the rest of our planets. The two filaments drawn out 
from the suns may not have mingled, though I think 
they did, but it is quite conceivable that, just before 
parting, the sun tore one planet, or even two or three, 
from the other star. 

“And that w’ould explain those men. 

“My other ideas were accepted. They agreed on the 
idea of the release of material energy, and the source 
of their power, but they couldn’t agree with me on 
that!” Arcot puffed at his pipe meditatively for sev- 
eral moments, then stood up, and stretched. 

“Ho — I wish they would let me go on active duty 
out there!” he grinned at his friends. He had been re- 
jected very emphatically when he tried to enlist in the 
air patrol. The Interplanetary Governments had de- 
cided flatly that he was needed too much as a scientist 
to go as a pilot of a small ship. 

And over all the worlds of the Solar System the great 
construction plants were humming with activity. The 
great shops were turning out the new machines at top 
speed, and getting their fuel from the wrnecks of the 
great Invaders’ ships. Each machine needed only a 
little, however, for the energy content was so immense. 
And those ships had been very big. 

A LREADY there was a fleet of the little ships out 
. there in space, and with every passing hour other 
ships left for the patrol, always adding to the fighting 
force that was to engage the attacking force deep in 
space, where no stray ships might filter through to de- 
stroy the cities of Earth or Venus. The plants were 
now turning out ships at such a high rate that the 
training of their operators was the most serious prob- 
lem, and one that had been finally solved by a very 
abbreviated training course in the actual manipulation 
of the controls on the home planet, and subsequent 
training as the squadrons raced on their courses away 
from Earth. The beams used were molecular motion 
beams, modified however, so that they did not affect the 
molecules, and their presence was detected by the 
ionization they would produce in the atmosphere within 
the ship. A small electroscope was kept charged. The 
ray would discharge this and the men would then sig- 
nal the “enemy” that a hit had been scored. In this 
way actual special warfare was carried on in practice. 
The training was far more valuable than any number 
of hours of terrestrial training, for here no ionization 
would serve to show the path of the rays. 

It was soon decided that there must be another 
service besides that of the ordinary ships. One plant 
was devoted to making huge interstellar liners. These 
ships were made nearly a quarter of a mile long, and 
while still diminutive in comparison to the giant 
Nigrian ships, they were still decidedly large. But 
twelve of these could be completed within the next 
month, it was found, and one of these must be used as 



an officers’ headquarters ship. It was quickly recognized 
that the officers must be within a few hundred thousand 
miles of the actual engagements, for light traveled 
186,000 miles a second, and they must very frequently 
make decisions in less than a half minute. If a mes- 
sage were to be sent to Earth and returned, as long as 
two hours for each direction was required. 

The ship must not be brought too near the front lest 
the officers be endangered and the entire engagement 
lost for want of the organizing central headquarters. 
The final solution had been the huge central control 
ship. 

The other large vessels were to be used to carry food 
and supplies. They were not to enter the engagement, 
for their huge size would make them as vulnerable to 
the tiny darting mites of space as the Nigrian ships had 
been to the Interplanetary Patrol. The little ships 
could not conveniently stock for more than a week of 
engagement, then drop back to these warehouses of 
space, and go forward again for action. 

Throughout the long wait the officers of the Solarian 
forces organized their forces to the limit of their abil- 
ity, planning each move of their attack. Space had 
been marked off into a great three-dimensional map, 
and each ship carried a small replica, the planets mov- 
ing as they did in their orbits. The space between 
the planets was divided off into definite points in a 
series of Cartesian co-ordinates, the sun being the 
origin, and the plane of the elliptic being the X-Y plane. 

The OX line was taken pointing toward one of the 
brightest of the fixed stars that was in the plane of 
the elliptic. The entire solar system -was thus marked 
off as had been the planets long ages before, into a sys- 
tem of three dimensional latitude and longitude. This 
was imperative, in order to assure the easy location of 
the point of first attack, and to permit the entire fleet 
to come into position there. A scattered guard was 
to remain free, to avoid any false attacks and a later 
attack from a point millions of miles distant. Earth 
and Venus were each equipped with gigantic ray pro- 
jectors, mighty ray guns that could destroy anything, 
even a body as large as the moon, at a distance of ten 
thousand miles. Still, a ship might get through, and 
with the death ray — what fearful toll might be exacted 
from a vast city such as Chicago — with its thirty mil- 
lions ! Or Karos, on Venus, with its fifteen and a half 
millions? 

The tension became greater and greater as, with each 
passing day, the men grew to expect the call from the 
far-flung guard. The main bulk of the fleet had been 
concentrated in the center of their great spherical 
shell of ships. They could only wait — and watch — ■ 
and prepare ! Hundreds of miles apart, yet near enough 
so that no ship of any size could pass them undetected, 
and behind there were ships with delicate apparatus 
that would detect any foreign body of any size what- 
ever anywhere within a hundred thousand miles of 
them. But these ships could not be successfully op- 
erated when near each other, so over all space they, 
reached, scattered about 75,000 miles apart. 

The Solar System was prepared to repel boarders 
from the vast sea of Space! 

* * * 

T AJ LAMOR gazed down at the great place below 
him. In it there was close packed a great mass 
of ships, a concourse of Titans of Space, great space 
ships, ships that were soon to set out to win not a 
nation, not even a world, but to conquer a system, and 
to win for their owners a vast new sun, a sun that 
would light them, and heat them for long ages to come. 

He gazed down at the vast metal hulls glistening 
softly in the dull light of far-off stars, and artificial 



520 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



lighting system. From the distance came to him the 
tapping and the humming of the working machines 
below as they strove to put to the great ships the 
last touches. 

He raised his eyes to gaze at the far-off horizon, 
where a great yellow star flamed brilliantly against 
the black velvet of space, for their atmosphere was 
too thin to color the sky. 

Thoughtfully he gazed at the flaming yellow point. 

He had much to consider now. They had met a new 
race, a race of barbarians in some ways, yet they had 
not forgotten the lessons they had learned; they were 
not decadent. Between his aeon-old people and their 
new home stood this force of strange men, a race so 
young that its age could readily be counted in mik 
lenniums, but withal a strong, intelligent race. And 
to a race that had known no war for so many seons, 
it was an unthinkable thing that they must kill other 
living intelligent beings in order that they might live. 
They had no need of moving, some men had argued, 
they might stay where they were forever, and never 
find any need for leaving their planet. Their worlds 
would never change now. What reason had they to 
kill off this other race? These were the decadent sons 
of a mighty race speaking, and Taj Lamor had grown 
to hate that voice. But there were other men, men 
who had gone to that other world, men who had seen 
vast oceans of sparkling, clear water, showering 'from 
their ruffled surfaces the brilliant light of a great, hot 
sun, and they had seen towering masses of mountains 
that reached high into the blue sky of a natural at- 
mosphere, their mighty flanks clothed with a lush- 
green growth ; natural plants in abundance ! 

Their eyes had looked down on the sparkling beauty 
of that sapphire jewel of liquid in its wondrous setting 
of green, and the blue of air behind. 

And best of all, they had fought and seen action, such 
as no member of their race had known in untold ages. 
They knew Adventure and Excitement, and they had 
learned things that no member of their ancient race 
had known for long seons. They had learned the mean- 
ing of advancement and change. They had a new 
ardor, a new strength, a new emotion to drive their 
arguments across, and those who would have held them 
back became enthusiasts themselves. Enthusiasm may 
be contagious, but the spirit of their decadence was 
rapidly failing before this new urge. Here was their 
last chance and they must take it ; they would ! 

They had lost many men in that battle on the strange 
world, but their race was intelligent; they learned 
quickly; the small ships had been very hard targets, 
while their big ships were too easy to strike. They 
must have small ships, yet they must have large ships 
for cargo, and for the high speed driving apparatus. 
The small ships were not able to accelerate to the ter- 
rific speed needed. Once their velocity had been 
brought up to the desired value, it was easy to main- 
tain it with the infinitely small friction of space as the 
only retarding force; one atom per cubic inch was all 
they must meet. This would not hold them up, but 
the great amount of fuel and the power equipment 
needed to accelerate to the desired speed could not 
be packed into the small ship. Into the vast -holds of 
the huge ships the small ships were packed, long shin- 
ing rows of little metal ships. Tiny they were, but 
they could dart, and twist and turn as swiftly as could 
the ships they had met on that other world — tiny ships 
that darted about with incredible suddenness, a target 
that seemed impossible to hit. These ships would be 
a match for those flashing motes, the ships of the 
Yellow Sun. Now it might be that their great trans- 
port and battle ships could settle down to those worlds 
and arrange them for their own people! 



And they had discovered new weapons, too. One of 
their mightiest was a new apparatus, one that had 
been forgotten for countless ages. A model of it was 
in existence in some forgotten museum on a deserted 
planet, and with it long forgotten tomes that told of 
its principles, and of its consequences. Invisibility 
was now at their command. It was an ancient weapon, 
but might be exceedingly effective! 

And one other. They had developed a new thing! 
They had not learned of it in books, it was their in- 
vention! They did not doubt .that there were other 
machines like -it told of in their museums, but the idea 
was original to them. It was a beam of electrical 
oscillatory waves, a bea'm of what we would call radio 
waves, projected with thousands of horsepower of 
energy, and it would be absorbed by any conductor. 
They could melt a ship with this ! 

And thus that great courtyard had been filled with 
Giants of Space ! And in each of these thousand great 
warships -there nestled three thousand tiny one-man 
ships. A thousand five hundred miles the great metal 
bulks alone would stretch, and with them would go a 
great swarm of tiny stinging ships, like some horde 
of stinging wasps swarming about their nest. 

Here was a sight to inspire any race! 

Taj Lamor watched as the last of the working ma- 
chines dragged its slow way out of the great ships. 
They were finished! The men were already in. them, 
waiting to start, and now there was an enthusiasm 
and an activity that had not been before; now the men 
were anxious to get that long journey completed and 
to be there, in that other system! 

Taj Lamor entered his little special car and shot 
swiftly down to the giant bulks. Now he was step- 
ping out of his little car, and walking over to the 
tube transite, ready for the trip to the nose of the 
giant ship. Behind him other men were quickly mov- 
ing his little car to a locked cradle berth beside long 
rows of similar cars. 

A quarter of an hour later the people who were to 
remain here on this planet saw the first of the mon- 
sters of the space rise slowly from the ground and 
leap swiftly forward, -then, one every ten seconds, the 
others leapt in swift pursuit, rushing swiftly across 
half a world to the giant space lock that would let 
them out into the void. In a long, swift column of 
sweeping ships they rushed on. Then one at a time 
they passed out into the mighty sea of space, Pirates 
of Space! From one system, careening on its way 
through the void, they were sweeping out to another 
system, to take it, and overrun it with their people! 
In space they quickly formed and set out. 

As by magic, far to the left of their flight, there 
suddenly appeared a similar flight of giant ships, and 
then, to the right, and above, another seemed to leap 
out of nothingness as the ships of the other planets 
came into sight. Quickly they formed a giant cone 
about their leader’s ship, a protecting, and yet a power- 
fully offensive formation. 

Day after day they sped on through the darkness 
of the void. Then, as the yellow star flamed brighter 
and brighter before them, they slowed their ships till 
the small ships could safely be released into space. 

Like a swarm of gnats flying about giant eagles of 
space the little ships circled the mighty masses of the 
parent ships. So huge were they, that in the com- 
bined masses of the thousand ships from each of the 
four planets, there rested sufficient gravitational at- 
traction to force the little ships to take orbits about 
them. At a hundred thousand miles about them re- 
volved a slow turning sphere of tiny ships, scarcely 
visible to the men aboard the giant liners, but slowly, 
steadily turning. The huge ships themselves had to 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



521 



use some force to overcome the attraction of one ship 
on the other, and a slight push was used, which made 
it far easier to maintain their formation than would 
the circling of the ships. 

I T was well beyond the orbit of Neptune that they 
met the first of the Solarian fleet. The tension 
that had been in both fleets throughout the preceding 
days was suddenly snapped, and like great machines 
set into sudden motion, or huge boulders, balanced, 
given the last push that sends them spinning with 
destructive violence down the slope, the two great 
fleets went into action. 

It was only a little scout that they met at first, a 
little ten-man cruiser, but waiting only to receive a 
reply from headquarters after it had wirelessed the 
message of their attack, it was sent into action. Some 
of the generals wanted to wait and try to get the entire 
fleet up as a surprise attack, but it was decided that 
it was more important to know if the Invaders had 
any new weapons. 

The Nigrians had no warning, for a ten-man cruiser 
was invisible to them, though the terrific bulk of their 
ships stood out plainly, lighted by a blazing sun. No 
need here to make the sun stand still while the battle 
was finished! There was no change out here in all 
time! The first intimation of attack that the Nigrians 
had was the sudden splitting and destruction of the 
leading ship. Then, before they could realize what was 
happening, thirty-five other destructive molecular mo- 
tion beams were tearing through space to meet them! 
The little ten-man cruiser and its flight of one-man 
ships was in action! Twenty-one great ships crum- 
pled and burst noiselessly in the void, their gases 
belching out into space in a great shining halo of light 
as the sun’s light struck it. 

Unable to see their tiny enemies, who now were 
striking as swiftly, as desperately as possible, know- 
ing that death was practically certain, hoping only to 
destroy a more than equal number of the giants, they 
played their beams of death about them, taking care 

to miss their own ships as much as possible — still 

Another ship silently crumpled and suddenly one ship 
right in the line of the flight was brought to a sud- 
den halt as all its molecules were reversed. The ships 
behind it, unable to stop so suddenly, piled up on it in 
chaotic wreckage! A vast halo of shining gas spread 
out fifty thousand miles about, blinding further the 
other ships, for the radiance about them made it im- 
possible to see their tiny enemies. 

Now other of the Solarian ships were coming swiftly 
to the attack. Suddenly a combination of three of the 
ten-man cruisers stopped another of the great ships 
instantaneously. There was another soundless crash, 
and the giant mass of wreckage that heaped suddenly 
jup glowed dully red from the energy of impact. 

But now the little ships of the Invaders got into 
action. They had been delayed by the desperate at- 
tempts of the big ships to wipe out their enemies 
with the death rays, and they could not cover the great 
distances without some delay. 

When a battle spreads itself out through a ten- 
thousand mile cube of space — through a thousand bil- 
lion cubic miles of space — it is impossible to cover it 
instantaneously with any machine. 

Already nearly a hundred and fifty of the giant 
liners of space had gone into making that colossal junk 
pile here in space. They must protect them! And it 
was that flight of small ships that did protect them. 
Many of the Solarians went down to death under their 
rays. The death rays were exceedingly effective, but 
the heat rays were not able to get quite as long a 
range, and they were easily detected by the invisibility 



locaters, which meant sure death, for a molecular mo- 
tion ray would be reaching over there very quickly, 
once they had been located. 

The main fleet of the Solar System was already on 
its way, and every moment was drawing nearer to 
this running battle, for the great ships of the Nigrians 
had, although they were entering the system cautiously, 
been going at a very high speed, as we measure inter- 
planetary speeds. The entire battle had been a run- 
ning encounter between the two forces. The Solaria^ 
force, invisible because af its small size, was certainly 
getting the best of the bargain so far, but now that 
the odds were changing, that the small ships had come 
into the encounter, engaging them at close range, they 
were not having so easy a time of it. 

It would be many hours before the full strength of 
the Solarian fleet could be brought to bear on the 
enemy. They were not able to retire and await their 
arrival, for they must delay the Nigrian fleet. If even 
one of those great ships should safely reach the two 
planets behind them ! 

But within a half hour of the original signal, the 
Rocket Squad had thrown itself into the battle with a 
fervor and abandon that has given that famous divi- 
sion a name that will last forever. 

The small ships of the Nigrians were beginning to 
take a terrific toll in the thin ranks of the Solarians. 
The coming of the Rocket Squad had been welcomed 
indeed! They were able to maneuver as quickly as the 
enemy; the little ships, all one-man ships, were harder 
to spot than the Solarian ten and twenty-man ships. 
The Solarian one-man ships were even smaller than 
the Nigrian one-man ships, and some of these did a 
tremendous amount of damage. The heat ray was, 
even when working at full capacity, quite ineffective 
against the ten-man ships, when produced by the small 
mechanism of the Nigrian one-man ships, but the great 
rays from the monster interstellar liners were fatal. 
The little one-man ships could not heat a ten-man 
ship beyond the capacity of their molecular motion 
cooling plant. By absorbing the heat and turning it 
into motion, they literally made the enemy supply 
them with their power directly. They were already sup- 
plying all the power anyway, but now they even con- 
served this supply! 

But the one-man Solarian ships had a truly deadly 
plan as far as the Nigrians were concerned. The plan 
was officially frowned upon, for it was out and out 
suicide. The small ships were directed at one of the 
monster machines, all the power units on full force, 
then the man jumped from his ship, clothed in an alti- 
tude suit. Death rays could not stop it, and with the 
momentum gained, they could not make it less deadly 
with their heat rays, for, molten, it was still a deadly 
thing. A projectile weighing twenty-two tons, moving 
a hundred miles a second, is enough to destroy any- 
thing man can lift off a planet! Their very speed 
made it impossible to dodge them, and they usually 
found their mark. The fusion would destroy a molecu- 
lar motion apparatus before it came within range, this 
was certain. And sometimes the pilot was picked up! 

The Solarians began to wonder why it was the 
Nigrian fleet was decreasing so rapidly — certainly they 
had not caused all that damage! Then suddenly they 
found the answer — when one of their ships — then 
another — and another fell victim to a pale red ray that 
showed up like a ghostly pillar of luminosity coming 
from nowhere and going nowhere! The answer was 
easy — the ships were becoming invisible. The invisi- 
bility detectors were being overloaded now, and the 
hunt was hard, while the Nigrians were slipping past 
them, and at the same time many of them were si- 
lently destroying their ships! The molecular motion 



522 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



rays were quite effective on an invisible ship — once it 
had been found. They were destroying the Nigrians 
quite as rapidly as they were being destroyed, but the 
great trouble was that the Nigrians were escaping 
them ! The luminous paint bombs became effective now. 
All enemy ships were shot at with these missiles, and 
invisibility forestalled. In space, bullets go on forever. 

B UT the scouts had done their duty now, for, as the 
watchers in the rear windows cheered, they saw 
the dark bulk of the main fleet coming near, a scarcely 
visible cloud of tiny, darting metal ships. The battle 
so far had been a preliminary engagement of the 
scouts! Now came the main engagement. The huge 
ships of the Nigrians were forced to stop their at- 
tack, and releasing the last of the small ships, retire 
to a distance, protected by the screen of small ships, 
for they were helpless against these swift-moving ones. 
The small ships had all been equipped with invisibility 
apparatus, but now that there were plenty of Solarian 
ships, they were more conspicuous when invisible than 
when visible, for the radio detector apparatus would 
pick them out at once, and all that was necessary was 
to send a beam of molecular motion controlling vibra- 
tions down the radio beam. The Nigrians soon learned 
that this policy was deadly and stopped using their 
invisibility. The Solarians also stopped shooting their 
luminous outlets, for any ship, so struck, was certain 
to be destroyed, and if the outlets didn’t hit a foe they 
kept on going till they did hit something! The entire 
Nigrian fleet was beginning to feel desperate now, for 
they were cornered in the most undesirable position 
possible; they were outside the Solarian fleet, and their 
ships were lighted by the glare of the sun, while the 
Solarian ships were all in such a position that the 
enemy could see only the “night” side of them — the 
shadowed side — and, as there was no air here to dif- 
fuse the light, they were exceedingly hard to see. Into 
the bargain, the radium paint was making life a brief 
and flitting thing! The little ships would dart sud- 
denly forward at three or four hundred miles a second, 
hoping to break through the Solarian fleet, but still 
the Solarian beams traveled at the ultimate speed, the 
speed of light, and the racing ships would suddenly 
crumple, and a halo of glowing gas would surround 
them as their atmosphere escaped. The Nigrians were 
paying a terrific toll in this first engagement! They 
could not spread their death rays to cover the entire 
Solarian fleet, for they lacked the necessary power, 
and their heat rays were likewise useless here. The 
great ships behind could not use their rays effectively, 
for their small ships must be between them and their 
adversary. 

At last the Solarian generals tried a ruse, a ruse 
they hoped would work on these people, but they who 
had never before had to plan a war in space, were not 
sure that these people had not had experience in that 
art. The conditions of spatial warfare are far dif- 
ferent from anything else imaginable. Here there is 
constant night and yet constant day. The position 
makes all the difference in the world. Or should one 
say in the universe? With the sun at their backs, 
the Solarians had a tremendous advantage. There were 
a thousand new things to consider, and not the least 
of these was the fact that there was perfect mobility 
in three dimensions. Never before had these condi- 
tions alone prevailed. Even an airplane is limited to 
about twenty miles range in the vertical plane, but 
here there were no limits whatsoever. All formations 
must be both defensive and offensive in all three di- 
mensions. It required quick and accurate thinking ! It 
was indeed fortunate for them that their enemy was 
even less skilled than they. 



But the Solarians had the advantage of thousands 
of years of planetary warfare to rely on. This stood 
them in good stead now and a new ruse was on trial. 

The Nigrians were rallying rapidly now. To their 
surprise, the forces of the Solarians were dwindling 
rapidly, and no matter how desperately this remnant 
fought, they could not hold back the entire force of 
the Nigrian small ships altogether. At last it was 
obvious that the small ships could completely engage 
the Solarian ships! 

Quickly the giant ships behind formed a great dense 
cone of attack, and, at a given signal, the small ships 
cleared a hole for them through the great disc-shaped 
shield of the Solarian forces. And with all their rays 
playing straight ahead, the giant machines plunged 
through the disc of ships at close to 400 miles a second. 
They had broken through the Solarian defense, and 
were on their way to the unprotected planets ! 

The Solarian ships had at once closed the gap be- 
hind them, and nearly twenty of the giant ships had 
crumpled into wreckage as a Solarian beam found it, 
but for the most part the remnant of the Solarian forces 
were far too busy with the small ships to attack the 
large ones! Now, as the monster engines of destruc- 
tion raced on toward the planets still close to two bil- 
lion miles away, they knew that, far behind them, their 
small ships were engaging the Solarians. Nearly all 
of their small ships were back there now, but all of 
the Solarians were held in check! They were free to 
attack ! 

Then, from nowhere, came the terrific attack. Nearly 
five thousand twenty-man ships of Earth and Venus, in- 
visible in the dark of space, suddenly leaped into life as 
the giant ships passed by! Their crushing destroying 
rays playing over the nigh-helpless bulks, the huge ships 
were crumbling into colossal junk heaps here in space; 
now, the last of their small guard of small ships stripped 
from them, they fell easy prey to the mass of darting 
ships. Faster than they could keep count, their mighty 
warships of space were crumbling under this sudden at- 
tack! The ruse had worked perfectly! Nearly all the 
ten and one-man ships had been left back there in the 
orinigal disc, while all the twenty-man ships and a 
few hundred each of the ten and one-man ships 
dropped back to form a great ring twenty thousand 
miles further back. The Nigrian small ships had been 
stripped from their giant parents by the disc, and as 
the great ships plowed their way through, unprotected 
now, they had fallen easy victims to the ring forma- 
tion behind! 

There was but one thing to do now. They were de- 
feated. They must return to their far off black star 
and leave these people in possession of their worlds. 
Their great force was nearly wiped out, only the small 
ships remained, and these could not be completely car- 
ried in their great ships. There were too few now. 
They fell back swiftly, passing again through the disc, 
losing thirty more ships here, as the small ships 
formed a sphere of darting metal about them, then 
raced swiftly away from this great fleet of enemies. 
The Solarians, however, did not seem content. Their 
ships were forming in a giant hollow cylinder and, as 
the sphere of the Nigrians retreated, their rays play- 
ing behind them, the cylinder moved forward till it 
surrounded them, and they were racing together toward 
that far distant sun. The Solar end of the cylinder 
was closed now, closed by a group of huge ships that 
rivaled their own mile and a half long warships in 
size. The Nigrians had stopped using their rays now, 
and the Solarians followed them in armed neutrality, 
not molesting so long as they were not molested. The 
trip was slowed, for not all the little ships could be 
carried, and all must go at the pace of the slowest. 



THE BLACK STAR PASSES 



523 



Many days this strange flight lasted, till at last the 
great yellow star, our sun, had faded in the distance 
and was only a tiny glowing pinpoint in the far, far 
distance. Then, suddenly visible out of the darkness, 
a strange, dark world loomed ahead, and their captive 
ships settled swiftly toward it. Through the air- 
locks the great ships settled into their world. No 
action was taken so long as the Solarian ships were 
not menaced, but for eight long months these darting 
shapes hung above the four circling worlds of Nigra, 
the Black Star. 

Then at last the astronomers of Earth and Venus 
sent through the billions of miles of ether their mes- 
sage of safety. The guard could leave, and the sun 
they guarded would soon be too far from Earth and 
Venus to make any attack possible. The suns had 
passed, never again to meet! 

Neptune’s orbit they had passed many many bil- 
lions of miles away, for now the young planet circled 
a sun so old it was dark — black! It had been captured 
by Nigra! 

I T was a different system the men of the Solar Sys- 
tem returned to. There were now nine planets, two 
new ones that Sun had captured from Nigra, in return 
for Neptune, and all the planets had shifted a bit in 
their orbits. Most of the major planets had been on 
the far side of the sun, far too distant to be affected 
by the gravity of Nigra to any permanent extent. Only 
Neptune, Earth and Venus had been on the near side. 
Had they been directly in line with the wandering star 
they would have been pulled out from the sun by the 
attraction, but, like a stretched spring, the gravitation 
of the great mass of matter that is our sun would 
have pulled them right back into their old orbits when 
the strange force had passed on. In order to change 
the orbits of the planets they must either be speeded 
up in their path or slowed down, or the mass of the 
sun must be decreased. Changing the mass of the earth 
would not affect its orbit to any practical degree, the 
mass of the earth being too slight in comparison to 
that of the sun to greatly alter the gravitational pull- 
centrifugal force ratio. However, increasing the speed 
in its orbit will increase the centrifugal force, with- 
out increasing the gravitational pull, and consequently 
the earth will fall away from the sun. If the speed 
be decreased, the force that keeps us from the sun is 
decreased and we draw nearer. 

When the Black Star passed the Sun, Earth had been 
rounding the sun in its orbit in such a curve that it 
was going almost directly away from the Black Star. 
The gravitational pull of the distant Star had slowed 
its orbital motion considerably, and as the giant brake 
of gravitation fell on it, the speed dropped, and Earth 
promptly drew nearer the sun, thus acquiring more 
energy, for it was a pure mechanical fall. This process 
had repeated itself as long as the star had been near, 
the ultimate result being that, when the Star had 
passed, Earth was eleven and a quarter million miles 
nearer the Sun, though the Black Star had tried to 
pull it away ! 

The exact reverse had been true of Venus. Though 
on the same side of the Sun as the Black Sun, it had 
just been entering that position, and so was moving 
directly toward the Black Star. Here were the con- 
ditions that permitted the planet to fall toward Nigra, 
gaining speed as it did so. It therefore took an orbit 
which had a higher potential, further from the Sun. 
It moved nearly eight millions of miles from the Sun. 

What the effect will be on the planets, we cannot say 
yet. The effect is certainly not very great, though 
somewhat greater warmth is felt on Earth, and a bit 
less on Venus. However, the elliptic of Earth’s orbit 



gave us the effect of several millions of miles approach 
and retardation from the sun each year, and the result 
was not tremendous. The effects will, however, be ex- 
ceedingly interesting. 

And the Solar System has just passed through an 
experience which was probably unique in all the his- 
tory of the mighty Nebula of which our Sun is an in- 
finitesimal part. The chances that one star, surrounded 
by a system of planets, should pass within a hundred 
billion miles of another star, similarly accompanied, was 
one in billions of billions. That both systems should 
have been inhabited by intelligent races 

It is easy to understand why the scientists could 
not believe Arcot’s theory of attack from another sun 
until they had actually seen those other worlds ! 

In that war of two solar systems we learned much 
and lost much, too, perhaps. Yet, in all, perhaps we 
gained, for those two planets will mean tremendous 
things to us. Already the scientists are at work on 
the vast museums and ancient laboratories that there 
were on them and every day new things are being 
discovered. We lost many men, but we have saved our 
worlds, and we have learned the secret of the energy 
of matter from them, the secret of that new light 
metal, and we have but scratched the surface of a 
science that is at least a thousand million years old! 

# * * 

T AJ LAMOR looked out across the void of space 
toward a distant point of yellow light. Far in the 
distance it glowed, and every second saw it a hundred 
miles further from him. They had lost their struggle 
for life and a new sun, he had thought, when he turned 
back, defeated, from that distant sun, but time had 
brought new hope. 

They had lost many men in that struggle, and their 
dwindling resources had been strained to the limit, 
but now there was hope, for a new spirit had been 
born in their race. They had fought, and lost, but 
they had gained a spirit of adventure that had been 
dormant for millions of years! 

Below him, in the great dim mass that was their 
city, he knew that many laboratories were now in full 
swing of active work. Things were being discovered, 
and rediscovered. New uses were being found for old 
things, and their daily life was changing. It was again 
a new race, rejuvenated by a change! 

As the great sea of yellow fire that was that strange 
sun had faded to a point behind their fleeing ships, 
Taj Lamor had felt that his race was doomed to die, 
as their dead planets circled a dead sun, their last chance 
was forever lost. But now he had hope, for new ideas 
had come to them, and new methods of doing things. 

Taj Lamor shifted his gaze to a' blazing point of light, 
where a titanic sea of flame was burning with a bril- 
liance and power that, despite the greater distance, 
made the remote yellow sun seem, pale and dim. The 
blue-white glow told of a monster star, and a star 
that was far brighter than the sun they had left. It 
was the brightest star in their heavens, and it is the 
brightest in ours. We call it Sirius, but on their an- 
cient star charts it was listed as a red giant, named 
Tongsil-239-e, which meant it was of the fifth magni- 
tude and very distant. But in the long ages that had 
passed since that classification was made it had be- 
come a mighty sun; it was a star in its prime. 

How were they to reach it ! It was eight and a half 
light years away! 

Their search for the force that would swing a world 
in its orbit had at last been successful. It was too late 
now to aid them in their fight for the yellow sun, but 
they might yet use it — they might tear their planets 
from their orbits, and drive them as free bodies across 
( Continued on page 574) 




By David H. Keller, M.D. 

Author of “The Flying Threat,” “Revolt of the Pedestrians etc. 

oomeranging 
’itound the Moon 



P ROBABLY one of the most mystifying of the world’s motion problems, 
a competitor to the puzzle of the gyroscope , is the boomerang. This seem- 
ingly uninteresting crooked piece of wood is thrown forward as if to strike 
the earth fifty feet in advance of the thrower. It turns flatwise, rises possibly 
a hundred feet in the air, curves around and returns to fall perhaps at its 
starting point. Its possibilities might be made unlimited. Dr. Keller sug- 
gests a way, and, in his usual manner , brings his story to a surprise conclusion. 



Illustrated by MOREY 



“ AVIATION is at a standstill,” complained the 
president of Aviation Consolidated. “The in- 
ventiveness of man went only so far in the 
jL JL conquest of the air, and then came to an abrupt 
pause. Meantime, there seems to be a deadly 
satisfaction, as far as the great masses of humanity are 
concerned, and business suffers accordingly.” 

“But we are doing business,” said the secretary. 
“Certainly, but it is pretty dull business. I can re- 
member when we first started the combined rail and air 
service from New York to San Francisco. The fare was 
over two hundred and we had space reserved for a year 
in advance. The same thing happened when the trans- 
oceanic service was started. People became air-minded. 
Everyone who took one of those long air trips wanted a 
plane of his own. Everyone wanted to be his own pilot; 
consequently, we sold planes by the thousands and by 
the millions. Now it almost seems that the point of 
saturation has been reached.” 

“Why not lower the price?” 

“That will not sell any more planes. Everybody that 
wants one is easily able to buy one. V 7 hat we must do 
is to find some new mode of flying, some novel method of 
travel that will stir the flagging interest of the average 
man and make him enthusiastic enough to sacrifice 
everything in order to have one of the new planes. You 
remember the radio? Nobody wanted a radio when 
television became perfected enough to be put into the 
average home. We want to do something like that with 
the air service. Only by doing that can we revive the 
early rush of business and make a profit that will please 
our stockholders. 

“We have a large number of inventors working for us.” 
“Yes, but they are all on the wrong track. They want 
to make flying safer, easier. What we need is some- 
thing that will make it harder. One of the things that 
has taken the pep out of the sport of eagles has been 



the efforts we have made to make it safe — and easy — 
and foolproof. Take the brakes off. Tear out the gyro- 
scopes. Pass a law making it a felony to fly with a para- 
chute, and you will see the way the people will fight to 
buy our latest model.” 

“You are the president of the company,” finally an- 
swered the secretary. “You have a right to dictate the 
policies of the concern but I am going to disagree with 
you. Men want to be safe in the air. It is the feeling 
of safety that has made the great development in air 
traffic a possibility. We cannot go back to the old days 
of uncertainty and daily deaths. I agree that flying has 
become less spectacular, but it has become more attrac- 
tive because it has become safer. You can talk all you 
want to, but you like to be safe in the air. You, yourself, 
would openly blame anyone for flying without the proper 
precautions.” 

“I bet you a hundred that I would not,” said the 
president. 

“I will cover that bet. Your daughter is up in the air 
now with a young man. They are in an old plane with- 
out gyroscope or parachute. They have none of the 
modern appliances ; not even a radio. I begged her not 
to go in that old model out of the museum ; I wanted her 
to take one of the new planes out of stock ; but she said 
that she and the young man wanted to get a thrill out 
of flying like the young folks used to. Now what is your 
reaction to that?” 

“Who was the young fool that made her do such an 
asinine thing? Do I know him? How long have they 
been gone ? The hundred ? Well, it’s my own daughter, 
man, and that makes a difference. She is in danger. 
Take your cursed hundred. I would give her a million 
for the right to spank her this minute. Did you say 
you knew the man?” 

“Certainly. He is one of our inventors.” 

“Tell him to see me as soon as he gets back.” 



524 




F OR four hours James De Loach sat in his pri- 
vate office, eating his heart out with anxiety 
and dread for his daughter’s safety. Then his pri- 
vate secretary announced a caller, Mr. Hill. The 
name was unfamiliar and De Loach asked brusquely 
whether there had been an appointment. He was 
told that the man was one of the inventors at- 
tached to Aviation Consolidated and was calling 
at the request of the president of the company. 

“Show him in,” said the great man, and there 
was a stern tone to his voice that boded no good 
to the young man. 



With an odd uwisting motion, the large piece 
of metal made its %vay into space. 



525 



526 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Sit down,” he commanded, “and answer my ques- 
tions. How long have you been going with my daugh- 
ter? Who said you could do it? What did you go plan- 
ing with her for? Why use a foolish old plane? Did 
you realize that you both might have been killed? How 
do you think it would look to have my daughter die in a 
plane twenty years old ? Answer me ! Keep your mouth 
shut! You are fired. Dammit!! What have you to 
say for yourself?” 

“No man talks that way to me, Sir. I am leaving.” 
“No, you are going to stay. What made you do it? 
I was wild with anxiety. She is my only daughter. 
Mad as a March hare, but, dammit! I love her. Tell 
me the story.” 

“Not much of a story, Mr. De Loach,” was the answer. 
*‘I met Dorothy at a dance. We had mutual interests. 
She learned that I had some ideas in regard to the air 
and the future of flying, and she was interested. We 
wanted to be alone and talk over matters, so she went 
out riding with me. We took an old plane, because that 
is the only kind I can afford to own. That is all.” 

“But she has a dozen new models of her own.” 

“Yes, Sir, but she wanted to go with me.” 

“So, you have ideas about the future of flying?” 
“Yes, but at present they are visionary. They are dis- 
couraged by the Head of the Department.” 

“Why?” 

“He says they will not do because they are not safe.” 
President De Loach called in his private secretary 
and gave him a rapid order: 

“Send in two club sandwiches, and a large pot of 
coffee. Leave word that I have gone home for the rest 
of the day. You can have the day off. Now then, Mr. 
Hill, start in and tell me about these dangerous ideas of 
yours, that will make flying difficult and even a deadly 
sport.” 

“It is interplanetary stuff, Mr. De Loach.” 

“All right. I don’t care what it is, so long as I can 
get a kick out of it. If it thrills me, it will satisfy the 
people, and if they are satisfied, they will buy the ma- 
chines. Go on!” 

“It is this way. People have gone everywhere they 
wanted on this earth. They have gone over the poles 
and around the equator. It is a common thing to go 
across the Atlantic. When travel becomes commonplace, 
it loses its interest. It is just as easy to go across the 
United States in the air as it used to be to go from New 
York to Boston on a train, or from New York to Buffalo 
in an automobile. I figure that folks are tired of travel- 
ing around on the earth. They have been everywhere 
and there are no new sights for them to see; nothing 
novel for them to experience. They are just bored with 
air travel as it is today. They are not buying planes, 
because there is no thrill. A friend of mine told me 
that he had more real pleasure in walking to Phila- 
delphia than he had in flying around the world, because 
he found that he really had something to brag about 
and the newspapers said it was real news. So I have 
been working on interplanetary flying — and it is not 
really flying, either.” 

“I like your line of talk,” sighed De Loach, “but this 
interplanetary stuff so far has just ended in talk. Not 
a single really sensible invention has been proposed to 
make it possible.” 

“That is because they cannot think in new terms. 
When they start on interplanetary inventions, they sim- 
ply reduplicate their old ideas about flying in the earth’s 
atmosphere. Now, my idea is that the trick will never 
be done with a hollow steel sphere or a cigar-shaped 
carrier, — a heavier-than-air ship, or any of the proposed 
forms of interspace flying machine. In the first place, 
all these inventors feel that they have to either go in a 
straight line or in a circle, but always under the com- 



plete control of the pilot. For example, they visualize 
a ship starting out for the moon. Halfway there the 
pilot changes his mind and determines to go to Venus. 
He simply changes his direction the minute he changes 
his mind.” 

“Well, what is the harm in that?” 

“No harm, only it cannot be done. It never will be 
done that way.” 

“Then you know how it will be done?” and there was 
a degree of sarcasm in the president’s voice ? 

“No. I am not sure that I do, but I have my ideas. 
Years ago when men were learning to fly, what did they 
do ? They studied the birds. The Wright brothers spent 
a long time in trying to see how the birds did it. All of 
our efforts were directed toward duplicating their 
cleverness in the air. Now, why not do the same thing 
in thinking of interplanetary flying? No birds there. 
No use of going to the moon as a bird would, because a 
bird does not go there. Then what? Why not study 
the things that are flying in those billions of miles of 
space? What are they? Planets and comets and satel- 
lites and asteroids. That is what we have to do. See 
what makes them move; then go through space as 
they do.” 

“You have one idea there, my boy. .Just one idea. 
You add a few more to it, and you will amount to 
something.” 

“I have some more to add to that first one. These 
things that move in the sky move in three ways, don’t 
they?” 

“Something like that.” 

“Take the earth. It revolves on its axis; second, it 
revolves around the sun ; third, there is a suspicion that 
the sun and the earth and all the sun’s planets are mov- 
ing on through space. That is one idea ; another is that 
while all the moving bodies finally come back to their 
starting point, none of the orbits are perfect circles. It 
takes some of the comets many years to complete their 
orbit. The astronomers say that these orbits are egg- 
shaped, or something like that; at least they are not 
round. That is another idea. Now, here is one more. 
The physicists state that a body, once started in a cer- 
tain course, is apt to continue in that course, and, to be 
sure, all the bodies are mutually inter-affected by 
gravitation.” 

“That is all interesting, but it does not tell me how 
you are going to go ahead,” ventured the president. 

“My thought is to make a piece of metal and shoot it 
into space. Plan beforehand just what its orbit will be. 
It goes into space, spins around and comes back, so 
timed that it will fall into some soft spot on the earth — 
some place like the Sahara or the Atlantic Ocean. If 
w r e can do that and send that piece of metal around the 
moon, then we can go further and try other orbits.” 

The great man yawned. 

“You are one ‘heluva’ inventor. You are a dreamer. 
You stay away from my daughter. I want real men to 
be interested in her. You know as well as I do that your 
plan is absolutely impracticable. You say this piece 
of metal is to be fired into space ? Suppose it is ? It is 
going to keep on going, isn’t it? The Germans had a 
big Bertha during the late war that threw a shell 
seventy-five miles. The shell kept on going till it 
dropped, didn’t it? It didn’t turn around and come back 
again. You shoot a revolver, or a rifle, or throw a stone, 
and it keeps on and doesn’t return. So would this piece 
of metal. We could easily shoot a piece like that outside 
of the earth’s atmosphere, but it would just keep on till 
it was captured by some planet. You go back and bake 
your brains some more, and in the meantime, stay 
away from my daughter.” 

“But there is one thing that you could throw or shoot 
that would come back.” 



521 



BOOMERANG1NG ’ROUND THE MOON 



“What is it?” 

“A boomerang,” said the inventor. 

“And now I know your brains -are soft.” 

“They may be, but there is an idea there. A boom- 
erang comes back to the person who throws it. It may 
strike the object aimed at and return to the sender.” 

“A boomerang? Just what is a boomerang, anyway?” 

“It was a weapon invented by the savages of Aus- 
tralia. Since I became interested in it, I looked up the 
history of it as a weapon. It seems that the armies of 
ancient Egypt were armed with it. They are made in 
the shape of a sickle, curved at an angle of ninety 
degrees more or less. The thickness is one-sixth of the 
breadth, and the breadth is one-twelfth of the length. 
The length varies from six inches to three feet. The 
wood is rounded on one surface and flat on the other. 
It is held vertically, the concave side forward, and 
thrown in a line parallel to the surface of the ground. 
When thrown, it is rotated with as much force as pos- 
sible. It travels straight for thirty yards or more and 
then turns over on its flat side and rises in the air to 
the left. It now follows a sort of a circle, with a 
diameter of about fifty yards, and returns to the exact 
spot from which it was thrown. 

“I found in studying the subject that exhibitions of 
throwing these objects were often a feature of vaude- 
ville performances some years ago, but there has been 
no vaudeville for many years; not since television 
became so popular. Yet I believe that we could find 
someone who knows how to throw a boomerang, and 
then it would be easy to invent a machine that would 
duplicate the effort of the human hand. We can meas- 
ure the exact force necessary to throw one of a certain 
weight a certain distance, and then a very simple arith- 
metical problem will give us the force required to send 
one around the moon.” 

The young man paused. The older man became irri- 
tated, but said : 

“Go on talking. It’s all nonsense, but keep on.” 

“Then, we can build a boomerang out of aluminum. 
In its hollow cavity will be a number of rooms for stor- 
age of provisions, oxygen, bedrooms, and everything 
that would be necessary to make life comfortable. Thick 
windows of glass would afford opportunity to see the 
celestial scenery. In fact, the equipment would be in 
every way similar to the modern airship, with the excep- 
tion of additional precautions necessary for the cold 
and the absence of atmosphere. 

“I believe that the initial force would have to be sup- 
plied by a form of projectile power outside the ship, 
but in addition, I feel that we could add a tube at one 
end of the ship through which we could use a propulsive 
power of the recently discovered atomic energy. The 
power obtained from a minute amount of this new 
source of energy is so great that there would be no 
trouble in storing sufficient energy to make many thou- 
sands of miles more than would be necessary to go 
around the moon. 

“You see, the important thing is the spin of the 
boomerang. So long as it spins, it goes forward. We 
shall have to determine the power necessary so that it 
will travel forward the required number of times before 
it begins its upward curve to the left. We shall also 
have to figure the pull of the earth and of the moon. 
The power that it is sent forward with has to be suf- 
ficient to overcome the gravitation of both spheres. 
That is simply a question in mathematics. 

“But in its flight this boomerang will closely imitate 
the course of a planet. It will revolve on its axis and 
wilLalso revolve on a definite orbit. In the course of 
time it will return to the starting point. I believe that 

the best way to start the experiment is to ” But he 

was interrupted by De Loach, who said calmly: 



"The best way to begin is to make a small one that 
we can experiment with. After that the only problem 
that we shall have is to enlarge everything. I think 
that the thing to do is to begin at once. I will put ttie 
entire constructive proposition up to our chief engineer. 
I want you to help us all you can. I think that this 
idea of yours is the biggest thing that has ever come 
into the brain of an aerial inventor. You can name your 
own salary from now on. Suppose I call up Smithson 
and get things started ?” 

S MITHSON, the Chief Engineer of the Aviation Con- 
solidated, was at once sent for. He was just leaving 
the office to keep an appointment with Dorothy De 
Loach, for he also was in love with that young lady 
and felt that his very responsible position in the com- 
pany gave him the right to expect far more than his 
minor rivals, like Hill. He was mad at having to break 
the engagement. He was more mad when he found 
that Hill was the direct cause of his having to do so. 
But he was too afraid of the energetic president of the 
company to express his thought. He listened carefully 
to the proposition, acknowledged that it was all new to 
him but that he would study over it and see what could 
be done. De Loach ordered him to construct a model 
boomerplane of about twelve feet in length. 

At once the entire inventive force of the company was 
at work, determining the various details that would be 
needed in a boomerplane large enough to make the trip 
around the moon and back to the earth. Supplies, oxy- 
gen, motive power, scientific instruments, in fact, every 
possible detail, were thoroughly considered. Men worked 
day and night, but at the same time, the greatest secrecy 
was kept. And while every man knew some part of the 
plans, no one except Smithson had the complete set of 
blueprints and specifications. 

It did not take long to make the twelve-foot model. 
When it was tried out on the secret testing grounds, it 
made a beautiful flight of one mile. This flight was an 
exact duplication of the flight of a boomerang thrown 
by hand. Pleased with this first performance, De 
Loach ordered one made twenty-four feet long. This 
one made as satisfactory trial flights. It was now felt 
that with the aid of the mathematicians and astron- 
omers a boomerplane could be constructed large enough 
to make the circuit of the moon. A power plant was 
erected in an Arizona desert and the work of construct- 
ing the final machine was begun. Arrangements were 
made for an initial explosion of atomic energy in back 
of the plane that would throw it the first two hundred 
miles. After that it would be carried onward by its 
own power. 

During this period of construction the main actors 
concerned reacted in different ways to the excitement. 
De Loach was restless! Thrilled as he was with the 
thought that his power and wealth might be the means 
of introducing an entirely new factor into the problem 
of interplanetary travel, he could not bear to face the 
thought of failure; yet, that thought was constantly 
with him. Hill, the man that was responsible for the 
whole affair, had left all the engineering details to 
Smithson and had occupied himself entirely with the 
furnishing of the many rooms inside the body of the 
boomerplane. Smithson, who alone was responsible for 
the proper transforming of the blueprint details into 
aluminum, passed long hours and days without sleep. 
Dorothy De Loach also had many bad nights, and she 
had sufficient cause for these. 

For Hill, the young inventor, had told her and her 
father that he had determined to make the first trip 
around the moon in the new machine. He felt that it 
would be useless to send an empty machine around on 
this spectacular trip. Some scientist should be in the 



528 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



machine to make observations and tell the whole story 
on the return to the earth. He did not feel that it would 
be right to ask anyone else to assume this danger; so 
he decided to go himself. De Loach hated to see him 
go, yet he felt that he could not order him to stay. Dor- 
othy cried and cried and that was all the good that it 
did. Smithson developed more insomnia, but kept on 
working. He openly praised Hill for his determination 
to take the dangerous trip. In fact, he had known that 
the youngster had determined to make the first flight 
many weeks before — he had known it before the final 
model was begun. 

Finally, the completed boomerplane lay on the scaf- 
folding in the Arizona desert. It was completely stocked. 
Hill had really overdone the matter of supplies. Store 
room after store room was filled with the necessities 
of life, sufficient to last several years. He explained to 
Dorothy that these would be necessary if their calcula- 
tions went wrong and the boomerplane remained out in 
space instead of returning to the Arizona desert. This 
simply made Dorothy feel worse than before. 

T HE programme called for the final departure of the 
enormous mass of metal at six A.M. on the first of 
June. A few dozen scientists had been invited to be 
present. On the evening of the thirty-first of May, 
Hill called on Dorothy De Loach. The call was short 
and anything but sweet. She asked him to abandon his 
plan of making the first trip in the boomerplane. 

“It is all nonsense,” she explained, “for either it will 
come back to the starting point or it will not. If it does, 
why then we know it will be safe to make a second trip ; 
and if it doesn’t come back, we know that it would have 
been death to make the first trip. So you stay right here.” 
Hill refused. He explained as best he could that he 
loved her but that it w r as a question of professional pride 
to have confidence enough in his own invention to trust 
his life to it. The young lady heard him in silence to 
the end, and then simply said that she was through with 
him and the quicker he left, the more time she would 
have with a sensible man, who, of course, was none 
other than the Chief Engineer. 

That started a real quarrel but a very short one. The 
girl handed Bill his hat and refused absolutely even to 
get up in time to see him start on his interplanetary 
journey. She was not very nice to Smithson the rest of 
the evening, but at least she allowed him to stay with 
her. The next morning she kept her promise and was 
conspicuously absent when the time came for the plane 
to leave the earth. 

De Loach made a short speech to the newspaper 
reporters and handed them a complete description of 
the boomerplane and the idea back of it. Then Hill said 
good-bye to everyone and entered the cabin door, which 
he at once closed from the inside, and sealed. To Smith- 
son was given the honor of pressing the button that 
started the novel aircraft on its course. With a peculiar 
whirring noise, the large piece of metal rose into the 
sky, and, with an odd twisting motion, made its way 
into space. Smithson wiped the sweat off his face and 
asked De Loach to excuse him for the rest of the day. 
The president of Aviation Consolidated w^ent back to 
the ranch-house which he had leased for a temporary 
home during the work in Arizona. Once there, he sent 
for his daughter. She could not be found. But in her 
room was a letter addressed to him. He read it as 
quickly as he could, 

“My dear Father: 

“At the last moment I found that life without 
Henry Hill was an utter impossibility. He insisted 
on making this first trip and I felt that it was so 
very dangerous that I could not let him go alone. 



So, I am going to hide in the boomerplane and not 
let Henry see me till it is too late to return. I hope, 
for your sake, that we get back all right. See 
Smithson at once. He knows something about the 
boomerplane that he has hinted at to me. I love you. 

“Your daughter, Dorothy.” 

“Now, isn’t that just like a woman?” said De Loach, 
swearing. “I thought Smithson looked peculiar this 
morning. Well, we will see what he has to say for 
himself.” 

When the Chief Engineer entered the President’s 
office an hour later he was handed the letter without a 
word of explanation. The official read it and then 
started to walk rapidly up and down the room. 

“This is a horrible complication, Mr. De Loach. What- 
ever put such a thought into your daughter’s head. She 
is as good as dead. She will never come back— never! 
Never ! ! And I am her murderer ! ! !” 

“Nonsense,” said De Loach kindly. “No one will blame 
you for her conduct. I knew that you were so jealous 
of Hill that the last thing you would have done would 
be to help her with such an escapade.” 

“But you do not understand.” 

“Well, tell me about it.” 

The tortured man finally sat down and began his 
explanation. 

“You know that the final preparation of the plans and 
blueprints was entrusted to my care. No one knew all 
the details except myself. Hill had an idea, but when it 
came to making that idea a mechanical possibility, he 
left everything to me. I did not love him very much, 
Mr. De Loach. Why should I? I could have won Dor- 
othy had it not been for him. I really hated him, and 
when I saw that his idea was mechanically possible and 
that he was bound to become famous, I determined to 
do everything that I could to destroy him. I had to do a 
lot of study in regard to the boomerang, and I suddenly 
found out something that everybody else had failed to 
take into consideration at all. There were two kinds of 
boomerangs. One cam -e back and the other did not. 
One was called the return and the other the non-return, 
or war boomerang. The war variety looked exactly like 
the return kind, except the relation of the surfaces was 
different. No one knew very much about this law except 
myself. So, when I drew the plans, I made them for a 
non-return type instead of a return. That means that 
the boomerplane is just going to keep on going. The 
more power Hill uses, the further it will go. He cannot 
turn it around or influence its flight in any way. -I 
wanted him completely discredited, but I wanted some- 
thing more. I wanted him to disappear and stay dis- 
appeared. I was sure that if he never came back, I 
could some day persuade Dorothy to be my wfife. Now 
he is hopelessly lost, and she is with him — and there is 
nothing that we can do.” 

The president of Aviation Consolidated looked at the 
engineer in horror. 

“You ought to be killed!” he wdiispered. 

“I agree with you and I will attend to that detail 
at once.” 

A little later he shot himself. 

H ILL had gone into the boomerplane and closed the 
door. He looked at his watch, satv that it was 
six A.M., and made himself comfortable in one of the 
observation chairs. Soon he saw the earth beneath him 
growing more and more indistinct. He was on his way. 

Now that it was all over, and the machine was finally 
made, and the work all done, the real experiment began ; 
he had a peculiar sense of ease. He took out of his 
pocket a letter from Smithson. The engineer had handed 
,( Continued on page 574) 



The Yriple R ay 

By R, V. Hap pel 



T HE Consolidated Press recently issued a small 
obituary paragraph which no doubt carried 
little significance to the majority of news- 
paper readers who chanced to see and read it. 
The wording as I remember was to the effect 
that “Professor Lucius Raymond, who at one time gave 
promise of being our greatest atomic scientist, passed 
away at his home in Maine. After one brilliant coup. 
Prof. Raymond apparently abandoned all research work 
and became a recluse.” 

It was actually worded in a nice way in order not to 
give the impression that Lucius Raymond was an even- 
tual failure, but such was the idea in the back of the 
writer’s mind, as the delicate wording proves. It had, 
indeed, been taken for granted that Prof. Raymond had 
expended all his scientific reserves in his “one brilliant 
coup” and was a burnt-out man thereafter. 

This is not so. To dispell that illusion I am attempt- 
ing to set forth here the real magnitude of Lucius 
Raymond’s life work, which was never known nor 
dreamt of by the reading or scientific public. 

Lucius Raymond and I were the closest of friends 
from college days until the very nSfeht of his death. I 
was with him when he discovered the Twin Ray, and I 
worked with him for months and years until by great 
luck and fortunate (or unfortunate!) accident he dis- 
covered the terrific Triple Ray. 

Everyone has heard rumors about the Twin Ray, 
which those who know commonly call “our priceless war 
instrument.” Few, however, are aware that this alone 
caused that vastly unexplainable retreat of the German 
Army at the time it had Paris and victory within its 
reach. The Twin Ray alone ended the conflict. An 
extremely solemn conference, made up of a diplomat 
representing each combatant land, was held in a neu- 
tral European country. Before these men Prof. Ray- 
mond demonstrated his Twin Ray. 

But this is in no sense of the word a “War” story. 
I merely use an illustration to show the effectiveness 
of the Twin Ray. This conference had been called 
because, to quote the leader of our forces, “so devastat- 
ing a force could not be loosed even upon an enemy 
nn:i; ri; mean; had been taken to secure his willing 
rerrear and ■disbandment.” 

Tire :;rderer:e had been called, of course, with the 
:: irrrc-nrg the Teuton diplomat. I can easily 
rent- bar stmt, acrid man who distinctly reminded 
me :: a del: cat;.; sen dealer I have traded with for years. 
H ; e i ar.d though an enemy, most 

enragingl; pern ire hr? window of the council 

?r : nr. is. Outside on the lawn 

After a few pofitemri f no - articular importance, 
Prof. Raymond turned Ms ray upon these effigies, and 
:r. :re swift instant, sweet :'rg from left to right, an- 
na dated every one with an efficiency both noiseless and 

The German diplomat slowly pepped his eyes out (I 
«as sitting across the room from him) and then said 
A -d- -Got! in Himmel!” 

A number cf similar experiments were staged with 



metal as w r ell as whole sides of beef, the beef being used 
to show the ray’s effect on flesh. One and all the sub- 
jects vanished into a faint, disappearing cloud of dust. 
The German and Austrian delegates finally left together 
in a great hurry, and the next morning the retreat com- 
menced. 

And what was this thing that turned solids to gray 
dust ? In pure fact it was absurdly simple, to a certain 
point. It was, in fact, nothing more than the combina- 
tion, in a single beam, of ultra-violet and infra-red 
rays. One acted merely as the carrier of the other, the 
violet ray insinuating itself within the atomic structure 
of the object to be destroyed, while the infra-red was 
carried “on its back.” 

A strange property of the infra-red was then dis- 
played. When injected so into the atomic being of an 
object it at once nullified all cohesive power of the atom 
nucleus and at the same time slowed down the speed of 
the electrons which fill or rather lie within tiny orbits 
about the nucleus. Immediately the structure collapsed 
into inert atomic dust as minute as the motes in a sun- 
beam. The result, you see, was much the same as would 
follow if one were able to suddenly pull every nail out 
of a frame house. 

But this result, while it may have constituted a 
“priceless war instrument,” was not all that Prof. Ray- 
mond desired. He was eager to release, instead, the 
very real and immense store of power in the atom’s 
structure. He finally did so, and I fear found it not a 
great deal unlike Pandora’s box. 

Perhaps, though, it would be best to explain this 
power of the atom before continuing further. First 
consider the atom itself, which constitutes the material 
of everything on earth. It consists of a center or 
nucleus about which revolve or are distributed a number 
of “satellites” like planets about a sun. The number 
will increase from but one in the case of the lightest of 
gases to ninety-two in the heaviest of metals. This 
atom, you have been told over and over, is so small that 
several million might be placed on the head of a pin, 
and several hundred thousand would be undisturbing in 
the corner of the eye. I do not know the exact figures, 
as I have small flair for futile mathematics. However, 
these orbital particles, small as they are, would, if they 
should suddenly decide to travel in a straight line, cover 
a distance of thirteen miles in one second. 

If the power in the nucleus which holds them to their 
places should be reversed and drive them apart with 
this terrific impulse added to their own speed, their ex- 
plosive force would be all but unbelievable. There can 
be little doubt that, if all the atoms in the bowl of the 
teaspoon with which one stirs his morning cup of coffee, 
should suddenly straighten out, he and his neighbors 
and that whole end of town would vanish in a glorious 
sheet of flame. That, indeed, is the power of the atom. 

T HE Twin Ray which “pulled the nails” out of the 
atom was generated in a regulation medical X-Ray 
tube. The X-Ray itself is of ultra-violet character. In 
slowing a portion of them up by passing them through 
a heavily leaded quartz prism, ( Continued on page 570) 



529 



Te rrors 




/ N “ The Princess of Arelli” our well-known author was much concerned 
with the televisophonic communication with the inhabitants (as he found 
them) on the moon, and his hero’s trial flight across the void. In this sequel, 
however, interstellar travel being an established fact, the story is concen- 
trated in its entirety on our satellite, the moon . It is quite logical to assume 
that since this is the closest body beyond the earth’s atmosphere, man will 
naturally try to solve its mysteries during the first experimental stages of 
interstellar travel, if and when that time comes. Until such time, it will be 
impossible to say what might be found upon — or perhaps below — the cold 
surface of the moon. As a writer of thrilling scientific fiction, this author 
needs no further comment. We can, without any hesitation say, “ Terrors 
of Arelli” is even better than its predecessor. 



Illustrated by WESSO 



N O INHABITANT of the planet Earth is 
likely to have forgotten the major inci- 
dents of the first successful voyage to the 
Moon, known to her own people by the name 
of Arelli, as our planet is called by them 
Marelli. This was in the late summer of the Earth year 
1938, corresponding to the Arellian tello, or year, 817 of 
the 211th iltello (an iltello being a thousand years), and 
followed by a few months the establishment of radio and 
televisual communication between the two planets. The 
names of all who were in the least connected with the 
significant event have become household words on both 
worlds. In chief comes Frederick X. Harding, the 
astronomer and selenographer who spoke the first 
word that carried across the void of a quarter of a 
million miles; whose eyes were turned the first into 
those of our fascinating celestial neighbor; whose 
wealth and industry built the space ship Terraluna and 
whose presence on her maiden voyage contributed so 
largely to her success; who wooed Altara, the beautiful 
and beloved Princess, and wedded her according to 
the Arellian form, with his feet on the mountains of 
Arequipa, Peru, and hers in her father’s kingdom. 
Then comes that jovial and courageous young Irishman, 
Larry Donelan, master aircraft builder, who made the 
ship, navigated her safely across the uncharted and 
pathless voids to her destination, and received his re- 
ward in the hand and the love of the fair Sanna, inti- 
mate and friend of the Princess. 

Nor will any fail to recall the so nearly disastrous ad- 
venture of the abduction of the Princess and Sanna 
from the very midst of the nuptial festivities through 
the jealous rage of the evil Ullo, aided by his friends, the 
barbarians who resided in the craters that lay deep in 
the nearly inaccessible fastnesses of the monster Doerfel 
Mountains, not far from the crater Tycho, in the south 
polar region of the Moon. Nor are the events ensu- 
ing far down in the tunnels and cavern settlements 
beneath the airless and waterless surface of Arelli 
to be forgotten, where the people had dwelt since being 
driven from the surface by the adverse conditions so 



many thousands of years before that all count of them 
had been lost in the mists of antiquity. 

In these thousands of centuries Arelli had grown old. 
The Hesperidian days of her youth were passed and 
gone; middle age had come and gone, too, and old age 
had overtaken her. The beauty of her virginity, which 
had been when the gods themselves were still young, 
had given place to a paler complexion and a dimmer eye, 
and her enticing skin had been marked by the cracks 
and pitmarks of old age. The pliant loveliness of her 
body that had so rejoiced the young gods was become 
stiff and ugly, and racked with the painful convulsions 
of senility. 

The gardens and the green fields had withered and 
turned to barrenness. The zephyrs that had fanned 
them had been sucked back into the vacuum of sur- 
rounding space. Her seas had become lakes, then 
stagnant marshes, and then had disappeared below. 

Her multitudes had gradually left the desolate 
stretches and gathered in the vast craters where there 
was still air and water, and as these refuges, too, had 
failed in their necessity, they began to hew out places 
in the rocks of Arelli far below the surface, following 
on the recessive steps of the elements. For thousands 
of centuries the Arellians had sunk their dwellings 
deeper and deeper into the rock until, in the 211th 
thousand of years they were hundreds of miles below 
the surface. 

There they had found they could go no lower. Not 
that the heat or the damp -was too great, or the rocks 
too hard, or the means lacking to hew them out. None 
of these things. It was that they had learned they 
were not the only inhabitants of Arelli. The workers 
had broken through one day into great open spaces 
in the interior. They were the workmen whose heroic 
statues stood in the amphitheater from which the ter- 
restrials had been first conducted to the underground 
settlements. 

No one ever knew just what took place down there 
the day the workmen broke through into the place of 
the beasts, but the story would not be hard to construct. 



530 




of “ The Beast^Men of Ceres 
“Tani of Ekkis,” etc. 



<J Looking down, he soon understood the reason for the muffled scream , 

531 




532 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



A group of seven workers had been hewing out 
places for the extension of the lower levels of the set- 
tlements. They used the Arellian boring machines, 
which could make many feet of finished tunnel in a 
day. From the lowest level they were making a tunnel 
downward another five miles to establish another level. 
For hours they had noted the hollow sound given forth, 
and they had wondered much, these heroes, what it 
might signify. No doubt it was nothing but the reach- 
ing into another of the frequent natural caverns, which 
lessened their labors. 

“Matto,” said a workman to his companion, looking 
around to see that no one was near, and speaking low, 
“I am sure I heard some strange sounds a while ago. 
Did you' notice anything unusual?” 

Matto shook his head. “I noticed nothing, Stello, 
except that there was a screeching of the machine. 
As soon as the erro is over we must give the word to 
the machine tenders to go over the machine and see 
what is the matter, or it may break down and delay 
our work.” 

“Perhaps you are right, Matto. It must be you are, 
for what would there be down here but the machine 
which could make such a screaming noise? And yet, 
Matto” — Stello looked over his shoulder furtively and 
saw that no other was near — “and yet, a machine has 
no mind or will that Can take hold of the spirit of a 
man and lay such a burden of fear upon it as there 
was upon me when I heard the screaming. I am 
afraid, Matto, my old friend. Afraid. You, Matto, 
know that I am not a coward, but — now I am terribly 
afraid. I feel as if something strange and terrible 
were reaching out for me.” 

Matto put a hand on the shoulder of the younger 
Stello, and gave a short laugh that sounded hollow and 
insincere in the gloom. “Nay, there is naught to fear, 
Stello. What could there be? It is unpleasant down 
here where the lights are confined to our working 
lamps. It is hollow and damp, too. I don’t like it any 
better than you. But there is nothing to fear. What 
could there be to harm us?” 

A gong sounded then, which announced that the 
erro was over and it was time to leave their work. 
The humming of the boring machine ceased abruptly, 
and gathering up such things as they had with them, 
the two men turned back to join their fellows and go 
to their homes for the coming enna of rest. 

“Say nothing of what I told you, Matto,” cau- 
tioned Stello. “There is no need to frighten the others, 
just because I am afraid of the noise of a piece of 
machinery.” 

Matto nodded acquiescence, and they went home to 
their wives and children. 

W HEN the enna was over and the next erro of 
labor had come, Stello had his “morning” meal, 
and prepared to return to his work below as soon as 
Matto, who lived near by, should come past and pick 
him up in his vehicle. A shout soon announcing Matto’s 
arrival, Stello called his wife to him, told her he was 
going, patted her arm, and smiled at his children, and 
started out. 

What strange thing is the human soul that it seems 
to reach forward at times to things unarrived and un- 
known? Do events of the lives of men wear a sinister 
or a happy aura, that reaches us before the facts them- 
selves, impressing upon us in advance the character of 
the coming event? 

One does not know. But then, why was it that on the 
very threshold of his dwelling, Stello turned back to 
touch his wife and children again, and say more words 
of love to them, before he went out to Matto’s vehicle 
and returned to work far below? One does not know 



anything about it. The human spirit is taken by strange 
fancies at times. 

Matto had come early, and the two were on the 
ground by the machine before the others. 

“The machine is quiet enough now,” laughed Matto. 
“Let us see if it will work as quietly as it rests.” He 
turned the power that started the mass of metal, and 
watched it attentively a moment, cocking his head to 
listen for any sound of complaint from its parts. There 
was none. He and Stello looked it over and made sure 
it had been tended for the erro’s run. 

The two neighbors stood a moment in silence, then 
gave each other a shame-faced glance. They knew they 
had both been listening, listening, not to the machine’s 
metal voice, but in spite of themselves listening toward 
the place ahead of the machine. There was a light 
sound behind them, and they both jumped nervously. 
But it was only their companions, who had come up so 
quietly that they had not heard them in their pre- 
occupation. 

They went at their work. As the machine bit into 
the rock ahead, took the mouthfuls into its insides, and 
spewed it out behind, reduced to one-tenth of its former 
bulk, it was piled along the edges of the excavation to 
be out of the way until the work cars should come 
along later and dispose of it. 

The successive bites of the machine gave off a more 
and more hollow sound, as it edged its way along into 
the space of the rock it had eaten and cast off. But 
even the nervous Stello, unconsciously listening, listen- 
ing, from time to time, could not find any complaint. 
Except for the slight sound of the machine and its 
hollow gnawing ahead, it was silent enough for the 
most sensitive of them. There was nothing to terrify 
a child. 

About the middle of the erro the crash came. The 
thinning wall before them suddenly fell into the nat- 
ural cavern ahead, and for a space a man could pass 
through erect, for the way was clear. A dim, ghostly 
glow came through to them, as they went to stand in 
the entrance the machine had made. By its light they 
could see the cavern reaching ahead for what seemed 
miles, but they could not see the ceiling. The floor 
of the place was rugged. Rocky ridges extended across 
before them, so they could neither see anything of 
what lay on the bottom beyond. 

When their eyes had become a little used to the 
weird gloom they could see well enough. So they set 
down their hand lights in the opening and made their 
way slowly and cautiously. Matto went ahead, and 
in spite of himself he could not entirely forget Stello’s 
mysterious panic. He proceeded cautiously. In a 
minute he called back to Stello to shut off the machine, 
saying they would not need it for a while, and Stello 
turned back to do so. When he got back to the entrance 
his fellows had disappeared beyond one of the transverse 
ridges. He could hear the sound of their voices and 
their footsteps, but the cavern gave it back to him so 
hollowly that he could not tell what way it came. He 
stood still a moment at the entrance, listening. Had 
they gone around the point at the right? In that case 
he must pass to the right of a huge pile that closed the 
way. Or had they gone behind the jutting cape of 
rock at the left? In that case he must pass to the left 
of the huge pile. Or, finally, had they climbed directly 
over the ridge straight ahead ? That would mean taking 
still another direction to reach them. 

As he puzzled over the matter, he heard Matto’s 
voice again, and he thought there was a note of alarm 
in it, although it was calm enough. Then there was a 
blood-curdling scream from one of the others, accom- 
panied by another sound he could not name, except 
that it was not human. Followed at once a bedlam 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



533 



of rushing sounds — whether of wings or feet Stello 
could not say — mingled with animal snarls, and human 
cries of fright, pain and despair. 

Then, booming through the mad melee of sounds, 
came to him, clear and calm, the voice of Matto. 

“Stello! You must go back into the tunnel quick, 
and blow up the entrance. Do you hear?” 

“Aye, Matto, old pal. What is the matter?” 

“Quick, Stello! Quick! Blow it up and save” — 
Matto’s voice jarred and broke, like the voice of a 
man who is trying to speak while struggling violently. 
It ceased a moment, then came again, muffled and 
hardly discernible. “Blow it! Blow it quick, Stello! 
Tell them to come down and make it secure. Quick! 
The place — is filled — with — — ” 

There was a gasp and then no more, but Stello was 
already dashing to obey. He snatched his pocket 
radio. There was no need to wait for any “connec- 
tion.” His message would register automatically, and 
repeat his message to the operators who were always 
listening. 

While speaking, he was making his way to the place 
where the bombs were stored that they had to use at 
times in their work. He seized one in his idle hand 
and started forward, still speaking his message. Then 
he turned back, and, his message given, dropped his 
radio and caught up two or three other bombs. One 
might not do the work well enough. The beasts must 
not be allowed to escape and destroy the people. He 
knew well enough what was the meaning of Matto’s 
words “blow it up and save.” In his last seconds Matto 
was thinking, not of saving himself, but of protecting 
the people. 

In the frantic moments Stello, too, thought of his 
sweet wife and babes. Well, he, Stello, need not die. 
He was in the tunnel; the mouth of it was between 
him and — that which was in the great cavern ahead; 
he need only throw his bombs to seal the mouth, then 
hide himself quickly behind the machine until the 
debris was settled down again, and make his way home. 
His companions were doubtless all dead. He could not 
help them. Matto’s voice had shown that he was al- 
ready struggling and being overcome by the — by what- 
ever had held him in its grasp. 

But Matto he had played with in infancy, fought 
with in youth; Matto and he had shared everything — 
always; Matto the wise, had always counseled him; 
Matto the strong had always helped and stood by him. 

A groan came up from the depths of Stello’s soul. 
“Matto! Ah, Matto!” 

I T was over. Quietly he made sure of his bombs, 
stepped through the opening into the cavern of 
terror, picked the right place for his throw, and flung 
one of his bombs into the mouth of the tunnel behind 
him. 

“Matto! Ah, Matto!” 

Calmly and steadily, he watched the mountains of 
falling rock and debris crash down between him and 
his world. 

That is what might have happened; that is what 
probably did. At least Stello’s message had said he 
was in the tunnel and his fellows were being attacked 
in the cavern. It was clear he was not then in urgent 
danger, and clear that he might have cast his bomb 
as well from one side as from the other side of the 
entrance. 

Thus had passed the heroes whose statues stood 
above. And what complaint had they? They lived in 
stone, even if their stone arms and bodies could not 
feel the embraces of their wives and children. If they 
complained in the place they had gone, it was not known. 
Man dies, and if he has done some great thing, his 



statue may sometimes be set up in stone or bronze. 
The next generation or two boast of his exploit as if 
it had been their own; the next tells the thing a little 
vaguely; and the next says petulantly, “Who were 
these, and why do they stand in stone here in the 
way?” Then the statues come down and there is an 
end of the transaction. And what do the dead care? 

They had saved the people from the beasts, but — 
never mind; that was long ago. 

At times the people of the lowest levels had heard 
strange sounds in the silent hours of the ennas. It 
had come to be recognized that these errant sounds 
were from the maws of the beasts, and it was plain 
that the beasts were never far away, even though con- 
fined safely below. There had been talk of abandoning 
the lower levels and filling up the tunnels leading to 
them. But the low'er levels had been the homes of 
their citizens for so long, and they disliked to leave 
their homes. There was time enough when the danger 
became apparent. Perhaps it never would. 

In point of chronology the reign of terror began 
with vague rumors and whisperings soon after the 
landing of the Terraluna and the ensuing festivities 
in celebration of the wedding of Harding and the 
Princess, and it was not a great while after the work 
of reconditioning the Crater of Copernicus on the sur- 
face had been resumed, when the workers were snatched 
from their labors and the bridegrooms torn sternly 
from the arms of their brides, and thrust into as mad 
a maelstrom of blood and stark horror as a man could 
survive and retain a fraction of his reason. 

It will be remembered that the kindly Altona, king 
of the Arellian realm, had promised to place their 
records at the disposal of Harding. Immediately, then, 
after the Arellians who had assembled to witness the 
festivities had dispersed to their homes, centering be- 
neath various craters of Arelli, the king had been 
reminded of his promise anent the records, and some 
preparations were made to begin with it. In this he 
was most intelligently and industriously aided by Prin- 
cess Altara, Harding and Sanna Donelan, as well as, 
from time to time as needed, by the most learned of 
the translators of the ancient languages and picture 
records. The language, as inevitable from the passage 
of so many thousands of years, had greatly altered, as 
exemplified in our own domain by the wide divergence 
between our modern languages and the hieroglyphical 
inscriptions of the Egyptians, and the cunieform writ- 
ings invented by the Akkadians of Mesopotamia, which 
descended to the Babylonians and Assyrians. 

By fortunate chance, the white-haired centenarian, 
Mastono, at the ripe age of 163 years, interested by 
the ambitious plans of King Altona to bring the people 
back to live in the sunlight, had left his ancestral home 
in the old capital beneath the crater Ylisae, on the side 
invisible to Earth, and come with all his vast learning 
and experience to live in Copernicus, the present cap- 
ital of Arelli and the center of the new activities.. 
When he learned of the desire of the visitors to exam- 
ine the ancient records of the realm, he returned at 
once to Ylisae to bring from the most ancient reposi- 
tories of that crater certain records he had encoun- 
tered while yet a young man. 

The Arellians employed formerly two methods of 
recording historical events. One was what might be 
termed the regular and orderly writing of history. 
This consisted of the dictation by official historians of 
accounts of important passing events into a receiver 
which impressed them upon, or, more correctly speak- 
ing, merged them into the molecular structure of, the 
fine metal wire or tape which passed through the ma- 
chine under the influence of an electric field, in some- 
thing the same manner only recently discovered on 



I 



534 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



earth. This method had been in use by the Arellians 
ever since they began to record their history, and the 
record thus made, so long as it was protected from 
change in the electric field, was practically eternal — 
if not in its original, at least by duplications, which 
were easily made. This method, remarkably enough, 
recorded conjunctively not only the voice and the re- 
lated diagrammatic illustrations, but as well the mov- 
ing panorama of events as they actually took place — 
in so far, of course, as it was feasible to photograph 
them. 

The other supplementary method, more primitive and 
disorderly, and probably much more ancient, consisted 
in recording passing events by pictures or drawings 
and commendatory writings upon the walls of the num- 
berless caverns and tunnels constituting the sub- 
Arellian territory and dwellings. The latter, in spite 
of its incompleteness and lack of cohesion, yet proceeded 
by a rough chronology, the oldest recordings being 
found in the excavations first made as the people began 
to take to sub-surface living, and coming more and 
more toward the present as the excavations proceeded 
downward through the hundreds of miles occupied in 
our time by the Arellians as settlements, horticultural 
areas, for manufacturing and other plants of numer- 
ous kinds, for storage, and the like. These records, 
also, were so made and protected that they did not 
suffer from the lapse of the ages. 

Keen interest of the two earth men had been 
aroused, it will be remembered, by the discovery among 
the pictures and writings on one of the ancient caverns 
of undoubted references to the now lost continent of 
Atlantis — “the paradise of Poseidon,” as it has been 
called by one of our writers. 

At the close, therefore, of the second erro following 
the saving of the Princess and Sanna from the clutches 
of the sinister Ullo and his barbarian henchmen, Hard- 
ing brought up the subject of the records, and it was 
agreed that the investigation should begin when the 
coming enna was over and the next erro was come. 

F ROM the close association of Arelli with earth, it 
has resulted that her calendar somewhat resembles 
our own. The tello, or year, is the same as ours, since 
Arelli accompanies earth on her annual ellipse. There 
is no term for century, but a thousand years is called 
an iltello. The tello contains thirteen nomas, or months, 
correspondent to the coincidental revolution of the 
plant Arelli about earth and her rotation on her own 
axis, resulting in the same hemisphere being always 
turned toward us. One half of each noma, then, is con- 
tinuous sunlight, and the other half continuous night. 
The noma is divided into 28 moras, corresponding with 
our days, or the observed rotation of earth on her 
axis. The moras are again divided into periods of 
activity or labor, called erros, and periods of rest and 
slumber, known as ennas. Formerly these ennas and 
erros had consisted of fourteen hours each, but with 
the advent of surface labor connected with the King’s 
new enterprises, it came rather logically, on a sort of 
daylight saving plan, that the work periods were longer 
during the sunlight and the seasons of rest shorter, 
and the reverse during the long night-times. The erros 
of the sunlight period were of fourteen hours and the 
ennas of ten, while during the night period the erros 
were shortened to ten hours and the ennas increased to 
fourteen. 

At the moment, then, the erro was over and the 
royal household had gathered in the informal family 
room where they were accustomed to assemble for their 
“evenings” together. The party consisted of the King, 
of Harding and Princess Altara, and of Larry Donelan 
and fascinating little Arellian Sanna. 



The radio and televisual instruments had been con- 
nected up, and the daily visit had been made with Billy 
and Mercedes Upton and their selenographer compan- 
ion, Professor Merriam, in the Harding Observatory at 
Arequipa, Peru. The current events of Earth and 
Arelli had been exchanged. Professor Merriam had be- 
come greatly excited about the discoveries concerning 
Atlantis, and had impatiently demanded that they be 
followed up at once. Merriam had spent his few leisure 
hours for some years in studying about the “Lost Con- 
tinent.” He had calculated its civilization and history. 
He believed he knew its precise size and location, the 
day, and almost the hour, when it took its fatal plunge 
beneath the waters of the Atlantic, and was almost 
childishly eager to supplement — or perhaps only to 
verify — his own findings. 

It had been necessary, therefore, for Harding to 
promise solemnly, before the instruments were dis- 
connected for the “evening,” that he would set about 
the matter as soon as the enna was over and the erro 
arrived. 

On what we may comfortably call the next “morning,” 
Harding and three of the learned translators, loaned 
him by the King, met at the airlocks leading from 
the royal residence into the Crater Copernicus. They 
walked slowly (for Lano was old) across the eastern 
side of the newly planted green of the crater’s floor, 
skirted the recently created “Lake Altara,” and en- 
tered through the airlocks and communication tunnel 
the vast underground distribution amphitheater, where 
Harding had been before. 

Eagerly Harding led the way to the place in the 
northern wall, where were the pictures and writings 
relating to Atlantis, pointed out the drawing of At- 
lantis, nearest the floor of the cavern, and asked for 
a translation of the several lines of inscription under- 
neath it. Lano pushed his long white hair back from 
his brow, gave his robe a twist, and brought his old 
eyes close to the writing, which was not large. He 
studied it a while. 

“The top line reads,” he began, and broke off sharply. 
“Why, I do not understand how this can be.” There 
was a sort of indignant reproach in his tone. “This 
is a very recent writing — much more recent than the 
time of the making of this cavern. Can it be someone 
is imposing upon me?” He glared suspiciously at Staro 
and Araso. “The year of the sinking of the land that 
is shown here is given as the 706th tello of the 207th 
iltello, and as the present year is 817 of the 211th 
iltello, or the 210,817th year of our recorded history, 
that would be only 4,111 years ago. I cannot under- 
stand this.” 

It was rather as if old Lano was set down by the 
indecent presumption on the part of things of so 
infantile an age as only 4,111 years, in associating 
themselves with the vastly greater respectability and 
validity of the tens and scores of thousands; as if a 
babe were to invade a class in astro-physics. 

Araso cleared his throat respectfully. “It may be 
that this cavern is of a later making than the other 
distribution caverns of Copernicus, of which there are 
several.” 

“Yes, that would explain it,” agreed Harding, with 
a nod. “I don’t suppose they were all made at the same 
time, and this may be the last one made — or one of 
the last ones.” 

“That is reasonable,” supported Araso quietly. “It 
may have been cut out as a more convenient passage 
than the prior ways of going down to the settlements 
nearest under it.” 

“Or it might be, too,” joined in Staro, who had not 
spoken before, “that the walls were not all covered at 
first, and these writings were added at a later date.” 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



535 



“Yes, yes, of course that may be. Many things may 
be,” complained old Lano, still a little resentfully. “But 
our friend of Marelli is not interested in hearing you 
young fellows rattle your heads. He wants to know 
what the writing means. So if you will please to keep 
silent a while!” He turned to Harding. “Whatever 
the reason, this is a very recent writing — only 4,111 
years old, as you see — or rather, the sinking of the 
land it shows was that long ago. This was probably 
written about the same time. As I was about to say” — 
he glared at the younger Araso and Staro, whose eyes 
fell — “the first line reads, ‘This is a land of Marelli 
that sank beneath the great waters the year before 
this writing is made, which is the 707th year of the 
207th iltello.’ Then the next line reads, ‘The land 
contained great cities and must have had many millions 
of people, and the disaster must be a very sad one 
for our friends of Marelli.’ You see, Mr. Harding, the 
observer in this case appears to have recorded only 
the larger aspects of the matter. They would record 
that a continent had disappeared, of course; and he 
speaks, I see, of the cities, and of ships moving on the 
waters; but he does not appear to have concerned 
himself with details. The third line reads, ‘But not 
all of the people died, for they went about much in 
ships and those who were away in the ships were 
saved, being perhaps several thousands.’ The fourth 
line says, ‘When the people in the ships came back 
where their land had been and saw that it had sunken 
beneath the waves, they sailed away to the land at 
the west.’ That is all of the waiting. It is not much. 
But you see, this is not a history of Marelli, but of 
our own world, and I suppose it was put down merely 
as a passing reference to an event of some interest, 
it being an unusual thing for a great land to sink into 
the sea." 

“I see, of course,” said Harding. “The land was 
called by us, Atlantis. The sinking of it occurred 
before our authentic history, and while there have been 
traditions or reports of its existence, we could not say 
whether it really existed or whether it was only a 
myth or a fable. What do you make of the picture above 
this?” 

T HE picture above showed the west coast of Africa, 
and the inscription merely said that the sunken 
land had been to the west of there. Staro suggested 
modestly that the regularly recorded histories of the 
year might refer to the event, and said he would ex- 
amine them. 

The mural frescoes and writings on every side dealt 
with more ancient times, and no other reference was 
found, after some little looking about, to any events of 
Marelli. As the examination of all the inscriptions 
would have required years, it was decided to try one 
of the other distribution amphitheaters, in the hope of 
chancing on something further of interest to the men 
of Marelli. They went back through the airlocks into 
the crater to enter the next station, which was on the 
south side of the crater’s floor. Staro left them there 
and went to examine the records, as he had promised. 

It will be thought that the examination of the records 
covering a period of over 200,000 years might be a 
herculean task; but this was not so. Staro merely 
selected the section dealing with the 207th thousand 
of years, and easily found the 707th year of that thou- 
sand. Attached to the file for each year was an alpha- 
betical index. So he had only to select the letter de- 
sired — in this case “M” (or whatever Arellian letter 
corresponded to the sound) for Marelli. He turned a 
key and a switch, there ensued a whirring inside, and 
a voice began to recite the subjects included under the 
letter in question, with enough of the context to render 



them intelligible. Hearing the name Marelli, he noted 
the number opposite and referred to the corresponding 
number in the main body of the records. Another 
turn of a key and a switch, and the voice came to 
him from the thousands of past years as clearly as 
if speaking from his very side. These voices from the 
dead past had always filled Staro with an eery feeling 
he had never entirely overcome. In his boyhood he had 
delighted to turn on the records of the ancient times, 
looking at the procession of pictures and listening to 
the voices, trying to supply the accompaniments of 
feature, figure, disposition and surroundings of the 
speakers — all, alas! departed ages before. One would 
sound young and vibrant, and he thought it was a 
pity that one had had to die. Another would seem to 
possess a certain quality of experience and middle age ; 
another quavered as if with great age. Some sounded 
calm and content, some petulant, as if resenting the boy 
awakening them from their age-long rest. Some were 
casual, some stern. Some of the historians had been 
women. In one such case her picture was flashed. 
He had been surprised to find her young, comely and 
smiling. She had touched his young fancy deeply, and 
he had leaned eagerly forward, only to recoil, chilled 
unpleasantly by the reflection that she had aged and 
died thousands of years before his birth. It seemed 
to the thoughtful lad so incredible, so tragic and ter- 
rible, that all alike must cease to live; and withal so 
mysterious and ghostly that after they had filled up 
their little destiny and centuries before had crumbled 
into dust, they could yet speak again at the mere turn 
of a little switch. 

“The planet Marelli,” the ghost voice began. “A 
great catastrophe on the planet Marelli has been noted 
by our observers. The entire continent known to us 
as Essanto, to the west of the continent of Alparo 
(Africa) has sunk beneath the waters, although the 
sinking was not seen by us. This continent is known 
to have reached an advanced stage of enlightenment, 
according to the standards of Marelli, which are far 
below our own. The people of Essanto, numbering 
many millions, had great cities and public works. 
After the disappearance of Essanto, our observers 
watched the spot constantly for a long time. The peo- 
ple of Essanto traveled much in ships to all lands of 
Marelli, and in this way a great many were saved from 
death. After a time the ships returned, one by one, 
to the place where their home ports had been, until 
at last a gathering of ships was seen sailing about the 
place. After quite a long time, the entire fleet of ships 
sailed away to the west to another land, where we can 
only suppose it is their intention to establish a new 
home for the remnant of their unfortunate people. 
Intaxit. es anna Essanto sn’ Marelli.” 

(The Arellian word is not translatable into our tongue, 
but the sentence signifies a sorrowful apostrophe to the 
distant “friends of Earth on account of Essanto.”) 

This being the extent of the account, and finding no 
more of interest to the inquiry, Staro readjusted and 
relocked the record cabinet as he had found it, and 
returned to acquaint Harding with what he had heard. 

The Princess Altara, the petite Sanna, and Larry 
Donelan had joined the others in the crater. 

There are six so-called entrance or distribution am- 
phitheaters leading underground in different directions 
from the floor level of the crater Copernicus. It should 
be remembered that the floor of the crater itself is 
many thousand feet below the rim, and that the coun- 
try backing the rim, unlike our own volcanic craters, 
slopes rather gradually from the top of the rim out- 
ward, so that on passing from the floor of the crater 
horizontally into the surrounding cliffs, one finds one- 
self already several thousand feet underground. 



536 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



Of these distribution centers, four include tunnels 
for travel from Copernicus to various other inhabited 
craters, as well as for access to the local underground 
dwellings and settlements; two are only local. Hard- 
ing, accompanied now by the scientists, old Lano, Staro 
and Araso (the centenarian Mastono not having re- 
turned yet from Ylisae), and by the Princess Sanna, 
and Larry, visited three of these before finding any- 
thing of particular interest. It was only when they 
were about to leave the fourth and give over the search 
for the time being, that the sharp eyes of Sanna caught, 
far above them, the word Marelli in large characters. 
It seemed, from its position, to be a sort of heading 
for several broad parallel columns of inscriptions ex- 
tending down nearly to the floor. Interspersed among 
the inscriptions were various illustrations on a rather 
small scale. It seemed as if the recorder were pressed 
for room or not greatly interested in his subject, for 
the writing was too small for them to read from where 
they stood except the single word Marelli, and it took 
sharp eyes to make out even that. 

At any rate, as the deciphering would obviously be 
a matter of considerable time, and other matters were 
intervening, it had to be postponed. 

S EVERAL days passed during which the further 
translation of the newly found records on the walls 
of the amphitheater was of necessity postponed. The 
King was kept busy with many things, not the least 
being matters pertaining to the new surface works, 
which he continually supervised in person. Old Lano 
had been compelled to take a trip on some educational 
tour to Tycho. Harding and Larry were happy look- 
ing about here and there. 

Larry and Sanna found material, built a raft, laugh- 
ing gaily the while, and went for a cruise on Lake 
Altara. The intelligent little Arellian girl asked a 
multitude of questions about her husband’s home 
planet. Larry described things on Earth the best he 
could. One might go where one wished. There was 
plenty of air to breathe — everywhere! All over the 
Earth. Yes, and water. There were not only tha 
great oceans, on which, of course, thousands of ships 
went, but there were fresh water lakes so large that 
one might sail out of sight of land. There were rivers 
so large that there would be room on them for vast 
fleets. Some of them were miles and miles wide. 
There were buildings a hundred stories and more high, 
and the air was filled with swarms of airplanes. Yes, 
there were flowers, of course — great gardens and fields 
of flowers and grass. In many places the flowers grew 
wild — that is, they grew of their own accord without 
seeding or tending. There were forests so large that 
one might get lost in them and never be found if one 
were not careful. There were myriads of fishes, big 
and little, in the oceans, the lakes and the rivers, and 
millions of birds that flew in the air. Some of them 
sang very sweetly, too. 

“How big is a fish, Larry, dear?” 

“0, all sizes, from the size of my finger up to half 
the size of the Terraluna.” 

“0-o-oh! Larry! Honestly? And do the people not 
fear them?” 

“N-no, colleen, they were harmless as long as one kept 
out of their way. The big ones — whales, they were 
called — were only in the great oceans, and one went on 
the oceans only in large ships. There were small 
whalelike fish that ate people when they could catch 
them — the sharks, but — well, one kept out of their way, 
that was all. There was no trouble about that.” 

“And, Larry” — she was breathless with the wonder 
of it — “Larry, you said the — the birds sing? I do not 
understand how that is. Do the birds of your country 



— the Uni — it is hard for me, Larry. Tell me the 
name again.” 

He kissed her, called her a sweet thing, and told 
her the United States, and she struggled with it until 
she got it, watching Larry’s lips attentively. 

“I am stupid, am I not, Larry, dear? I have never 
seen a bird. Do the birds in the — United States — do 
they sing in your own languages? You say many lan- 
guages are on Marelli. Do the birds of each coun- 
try ” 

Larry laughed, kissed her again, and explained, and 
then they laughed together, to think she had never 
seen a bird and thought they sang in words, like peo- 
ple. Then she told him, “Larry, I love you so. You 
are so— you are a — a sweet thing.” She said she could 
never live an erro or an enna away from him, and 
then his face became so sober it frightened her. She 
leaned close, with her arms about his neck and her 
clear eyes searching his, a little puzzled. She shook 
him gently. “Why do you look — so strange, Larry, 
dear? I would rather go to — to the beasts with you, 
than be anywhere without you — even for a single 
enna.” 

“Why, colleen,” he told her, “it is nothing to make 
you look so sad. It is only that they are building now 
a new ship at Altara Mountain — a bigger one than the 
Terraluna. You know about it. Well, I do not think 
they can finish it without me, so I must go over and 
help get it done. That I must do soon. But I will 
come back in a little while, dear one.” 

Well — she puckered her lips adorably a moment — 
well, Larry, the Terraluna would hold two. It had 
held him and Freddie, and she was much smaller than 
Freddie. She would go with him. 

No, little one. The journey was not safe — that is, 
not comfortable enough, yet. It meant being shut up 
in a very small space and hardly being able to move 
all the way. When the larger ship was done 

But — she picked out that about the comfort with 
unerring instinct. Larry had not caught himself 
quickly enough for her sharp wits. But — it was as 
safe for her as for him. She would go. 

Larry shook his head. Not this trip. Maybe the 
next one. 

She stood up straight, her little face suddenly gone 
tense and white. Then she would die — at once I 
Without so much as a second’s hesitation, to Larry’s 
surprise and horror, she had flung herself overboard 
from their play raft into the lake, which was deep at 
that point, thrown up her little hands, and sunk. 

Like a flash he was after her, and soon managed to 
seize her clothes, but she struggled and they tore away 
in his hands, so that she sank again. Diving, he seized 
her again, and brought her to the surface. But she 
fought to tear herself out of his grasp. Larry was 
not a strong swimmer, and it was with vast relief that 
he lunged out and caught the edge of the raft with one 
hand. He drew her upon it and held her fast. At last 
she lay still under his caresses, looking up at the un- 
mistakable trouble in his honest eyes. In a moment 
her lips parted. 

“I will go, Larry.” 

In spite of himself, he laughed, and he snatched her 
to him so fiercely tight that she let out a happy little 
gasp. 

“Yes, colleen, you will go.” 

Larry made no mention to anyone of the events on 
the raft, and if Sanna spoke of it to Altara they both 
kept their counsel. Each time when night was upon 
the Earth, connections were made with Altara Moun- 
tain. Since the rather astonishing marriage of Billy 
Upton and Mercedes, Mercedes had spent her time be- 
tween the Mountain and her father’s place on Lake 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



537 



Titicaca. They were greatly excited, they and Pro- 
fessor Merriam, about their coming trip to Arelli on 
the new ship, which was being built under the long 
distance supervision of Larry. The work was pro- 
gressing rapidly, but it turned out, as Larry had ex- 
pected, necessary for him to make the trip to Earth 
for the completion and fitting. 

There was no more argument about whether Sanna 
was going. Larry had spoken to the Princess about it, 
but she had been as decided as Sanna, and that had 
settled the matter. Apparently the girls of Arelli be- 
longed very much to their mates — and expected as 
much in return. 

“Sanna is right, Larry. You do not know the girls 
of Arelli. You will kill her if you leave her behind. 
They know men with a great certainty, and having 
chosen there is no changing with them. If you are 
both to die on the way she will die content; but if you 
leave her, whether you die or live, it will kill her. 
Sanna is right, Larry.’' 

O NE evening, when they were all gathered together 
in the royal quarters, the Captain of the Guard 
was announced. His face wore a look of grim trouble. 
He asked to see the King alone, and the King received 
him in a small officelike place near by, where he heard 
his story. 

A party of workmen, he said, had been engaged in 
boring new wells on the lowest level. A boring ma- 
chine had suddenly broken through into a natural 
cavern. The well had to be abandoned, of course, and 
another started elsewhere. Through somebody’s neglect 
the thirty-inch hole had been left open for a time, and 
when at last a party of five men had been sent to 
close it, only one of the party had returned. 

The tale of the survivor had been a wild one. He 
had been in such a pitiable plight from fear and panic 
that he could hardly speak at all, and even then had 
not seemed more than half aware of hi3 words. Con- 
tinually he would break off, shaking as with the ague, 
and peering here and there as if expecting some ter- 
rible thing to leap upon him and destroy him. 

The story they had finally got out of him was that 
five men had gone to close the abandoned hole. Their 
first step had been to let a man down into the hole in 
a cage, taking metal bars, which he would put in place 
in such a way as to keep the filling from falling 
through into the cavern below. Then broken rock was 
to be put in until the hole was filled to the top. 

The hole being too small for the convenient use of 
gravitors, a windlass had been rigged at the mouth of 
the hole. One man would get into the cage, and an- 
other would let him down to the desired position. While 
this was being done, the other three went to prepare 
the crushed rock for the fill, two running the crushing 
machine, and one taking it in a sort of truck to the 
hole. It was the truckman who was the survivor of 
the party. The crushing machine was some distance 
away, and out of sight of the hole. 

When the truckman arrived with his first load the 
windlass man was not in sight. He had waited a while, 
thinking he had gone to attend to some little matter 
and would return shortly. Impatient at last with wait- 
ing, he had gone and looked down the hole. He was 
surprised to find that the light, which had been car- 
ried down in Che cage, was out, and called down to ask 
what was wrong. There had been no reply. Then he 
had noticed for the first time — it was strange he had 
not seen it at the very first — that the cable had run 
out its entire length into the hole. This was not rea- 
sonable, because it was twice as long as necessary. 
Alarmed at last, he had run and called the two men 
from the rock-crushing machine. 



One of these immediately proposed to go down the 
cable to the cage to see what was wrong. Perhaps the 
cage man had been hurt in some way. Perhaps the 
windlass man had gone down to help him, and both had 
got into some difficulty. He would soon find out. First 
making sure the cable was securely attached at the 
windlass, he had attached a clutch to the cable in 
which were loops for the hands. Securing his light, 
he had swung over into the hole and slid downward. 
The two on the surface had watched the descending 
light but a short distance when it, too, had suddenly 
gone out. They had heard a muffled scream and then 
silence. 

Urged to go on with his story, the truckman had 
trembled so violently that it had been some time before 
he could speak again, and then hardly intelligibly. He 
could not tell what had happened after that. His sole 
remaining companion had lain down on the ground to 
peer into the hole. After a bit, without looking up, 
he had asked the truckman to bring him another light, 
on a cord. He, the truckman, had turned away to 
secure a light and was attaching it to the cord when 
he had heard a sort of choking gasp from the man at 
the hole. Turning quickly, he had been just in time to 
see his feet disappearing into the hole. They were in 
the grasp of something that looked like a tentacle, but 
he had had only the briefest, fleeting glance at it. 
Then the tentacle and feet had disappeared together, 
and he had turned and fled screaming from the place. 

That was the story the Captain of the Guard told 
the King, who heard him in thoughtful silence. 

“Did you hear the story yourself, Captain?” he 
asked. 

“O, yes, Your Majesty. When word of the matter 
was brought me I sent for him at once and examined 
him carefully.” 

“And do you think his words are true?” 

“Yes, I do, sir.” 

The King nodded. “And the hole?” 

“I went myself immediately with workmen and 
closed it.” 

The King looked a question, and the Captain shook 
his head. “I saw nothing unusual, sir. I merely reamed 
the hole to a larger size for some distance down and 
dropped in a rock the size of the larger hole. It could 
go only to where the hole narrowed, and I had them 
fill on top of it. That is what the workmen should 
have done in the first place. It was awkward of them 
to go at it as they did, but I guess they did the best 
they knew how, poor fellows.” 

“Did you search the lower level, in case any of the 
beasts had escaped and were still at large?” 

The Guard Captain nodded. “Yes, I did search thor- 
oughly, sir.” 

“You dragged the storage reservoirs?” 

The Captain started. “No, Your Majesty, I did not. 
The truth is I did not think of that.” 

“Better do it, Captain— just as a precaution. It may 
not be necessary, but — better do it, anyway, when you 
get time. We know nothing about these beasts. They 
were probably water creatures originally, and when 
the seas dried up they made their way below in some 
way, and if the beasts have tentacles, it may be that 
they are still water animals. No doubt there is water 
down where they live. Better drag the reservoirs, 
though I don’t suppose — Report to me personally, 
Captain. You did right in coming direct to me.” 

H ARDING had assumed, rather as a matter of 
course, that he would return to Earth with Larry 
Donelan, attend to some business matters, and return to 
Arelli when the new ship should be completed, with 
Billy and Mercedes Upton, and probably Professor 



538 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



Merriam. He did not relish leaving Altara, even for a 
day ; he very much wanted to go ahead with the records 
they had found; and for some reason he found it dif- 
ficult even to approach the subject of going, in speak- 
ing to the Princess. Larry had said nothing to him 
about the matter, for reasons that are fairly obvious. 
But Harding knew he must speak of it to his lady, 
particularly as he realized each day that the trip 
would have to be taken soon. So he introduced the 
subject one day when he was alone with Altara. 

“Sweetheart,” he began, “you know the people of 
Altara Mountain can hardly complete the new chip 
without Larry’s help. It will be necessary ” 

He could not see her face, because her head was on 
his shoulder, and her face was close to his neck. He 
could feel the soft movement of her lips just touch- 
ing him. 

“Yes,” she said, “I know, my dear one. I am sorry 
Larry has to go, but I suppose i't must be. He and 
Sanna have spoken to me about their preparations.” 

There was something about her tone that made him 
take her face between his hands and look intently into 
her eyes. She put his hands away in a moment, to 
lay her head back where it had been before. He could 
feel her lips again, but she said nothing. 

“Of course, dear, you know I ought to attend to some 
business matters at the Mountain. I have to — there 
are some — you see ” 

He could have sworn she was laughing, but when he 
looked at her, her face was straight enough. He must 
have been mistaken. 

“Larry says you are terribly rich, dear. I am so 
sorry. It must be a source of great annoyance to you. 
But when Larry gets the new ship done, and he and 
Sanna get back — 0, yes, and Billy and Mercedes! 0, 
Freddie, I do want to see them so ! And that dear 
Professor Merriam! My father is very fond of him. 
Mercedes is so sweet, too. I can not wait to see them 
all face to face. I am so eager to see your Marelli, 
too, Freddie, my dear one. Well, I will have to wait 
till the new ship is done and Larry and Sanna get 
back. I am sorry, though, that Larry did not make 
the Terraluna bigger, so we could go to Marelli now.” 

There was silence a moment. Then, “Freddie, my 
dear, I love you so. I could not live a single enna 
without you. I shall die if you ever leave me for a-— 
for a — what is that? — for a sec-ond.” 

There it was again. Harding drew her golden form 
close and kissed her. He decided to have a talk with 
Larry first. Altara spoke as if everything were settled, 
and he hardly knew what to say. These girls seem 
to love a little harder than the girls of Marelli. Yes, 
he would see Larry first. 

Before long he and Larry did have a long quiet 
talk — perhaps a little confidential as between man and 
man anent woman and woman. The last words clear 
the whole talk. “So what can we do, Mr. Harding?” 
“Yes, Larry, I guess you’re right. What can we?” 
, From all of which it is easily apparent that Larry 
and his little Arellian were the sole passengers on the 
Terraluna’s return voyage to Marelli, which was made 
in twenty-four hours, and followed by a perfect landing 
on Mountain Altara, between the observatory and the 
hangars. 

Of course it was quite unavoidable that others of 
Marelli had come to know of the interesting events. 
And since the daily press had acquired in 1938 even 
more exceptional ways than in former decades for 
finding out things they wished to know, it was inevi- 
table, too, that they ferreted out the transaction entire. 
They proceeded jointly and severally to Altara Moun- 
tain, by automobile, airplane, boat, train, and all but 
subterraneously. They alighted upon the quivering 



shoulders of Professor Merriam and the Uptons, like 
a swarm of destroying termites. At last, after some 
conferences with Arelli, the Professor made out a set 
written statement, giving out such facts only as they 
desired to disclose and no more. In spite of this 
paucity of accredited information, though, it was not 
to be expected that the journals would fail in such in- 
timately pleasurable details, as the fact that the Prin- 
cess affected neither stockings nor cosmetics; that she 
was innocent alike of smoking, drinking, and permis- 
sible profanity. On the “best authority” it was 
delicately given out that she even did without the tiny 
crimson swastikas on her cheeks and the bracelets of 
paint about her wrists and just above her knees, that 
went so far to establish the character and desirability 
of the females of Marelli. 

When the world is in on your secret, there is no 
secret; when the world finds out where you go for your 
pleasures, there are no pleasures ; when the world finds 
out where you eat (if you are anywise famous for 
anything), you have no longer any eating place; when 
the world found out about Arelli, the world wished to 
go at once to Arelii. The reporters dreamed of un- 
precedented “scoops.” The minerally minded felt there 
was gold there. The scientists dreamed of new bugs 
they might label and catalog, and designate in Latin 
with their own names attached as a sort of affidavit 
to their importance and validity; or they saw new 
fields of geology (or lithology, at least) to explore; or 
— whatever their specialty might be. Indeed there is 
some support for the assertion that the discovery by 
one Smith S. Smith of the avis Smithii or Arellian 
nightingale, considerably antedated the discovery that 
Arelli was birdless. And this despite the authentic de- 
scription by Smith S. of its last note and feather. 

Yes, certainly, the world wanted Arelli ardently and 
at once. But how go there? They knew a ship had 
already been there. They found that another was 
building to go there again soon. They besieged Altara 
Mountain and high heaven for passage. Being told 
that the man who owned and controlled the whole trans- 
action was off the Earth just then; they tried all 
manner of ways to get to him — without success. 

The Altara Mountaineers would gladly have closed 
up the “plant” for a while entirely and taken refuge with 
President Gonzales at his Titicaca residence; but they 
dared not. They knew too well the place would have 
been literally taken apart piece by piece by the genus 
souvenir hunter and related fauna. 

By reason of which the arrival of the Terraluna 
was arranged for the nighttime, and the secret of her 
coming guarded with care. They did succeed in ar- 
riving secretly, but the secret could not be kept. The 
very breezes wantonly broadcast it. And the whole 
swarm was up the Mountain after them the next day. 
Indeed, to insure even the safety of the very ships 
themselves, President Gonzales had to send a hundred 
military guards to surround the hangars. 

The little Arellian Sanna had so many new things to 
see and learn! Mostly she was enchanted. She saw 
the birds and heard them sing and laughed happily 
again at her first thought of them singing in words. 
The warm-hearted Spanish-American, Mercedes, took 
her to herself without reserve. That was good. That 
she must learn to stay with Mercedes or others while 
Larry was absent for hours at a time in the shops and 
hangars — not so good. But she was brave. The ways of 
Marelli might be strange, and at times even a little 
hard in some points, but they must be hers, even as 
Larry was hers. Professor Merriam she adored, as he 
did her. Billy Upton she thought nice, too, but her 
incomplete knowledge of English often made it hard 
to follow what he said. It had been comparatively sim- 
ple that “kid” and “colleen” signified nice little girls, 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



539 



but that “olcheese” and “olbean” and “olhorse” bore 
somewhat related meanings as to men, and “tfddle- 
winks” and “honeybunch” and “morning glory,” as to 
women! It made her earnest little brain whirl, and 
she could hardly get the time to set them down and 
study them, so that she might know well the authentic 
tongue of the Irish lad she so adored. 

1 ARRY worked hard and earnestly. He gave his men 
double pay, with generous bonuses for efficiency. 
He coaxed and praised and drove them. It almost 
seemed as if he were possessed of some mystic Irish 
flair, or hunch, or what not, that the ship must be done 
quickly — quickly ! 

And so it turned out, for the news that crossed the 
void that night from Arelli was disquieting enough. 

It was on the lowest level again. In the quiet of 
the ennas, when the bustle of labor and traffic was 
stilled, and there was no sound save the soft whir of 
the giant pumps, working unremittingly through the 
erros and the ennas to send water up to the surface 
works which were to make them a new world, and to 
the upper levels where no water was to be found — 
in the quiet of the ennas, strange sounds began to bo 
heard. The people of the lowest levels had heard the 
like before — true, but then the noises had always been 
muffled and had seemed far away, bearing the calm- 
ing suggestion of safe barriers of solid rock between. 
But now they were different — now they were different. 
They were not muffled. It was almost as if they 
might be at the very doors, slimily discussing and 
perfecting among themselves unspeakable revenges 
upon the puny beings who had kept them imprisoned 
so long in their hells in the oppressive bowels of Arelli. 

One had but to listen at any time to hear the voice 
of one like the mad, leering laughter of a tortured 
fiend, and it might almost have been fancied he was lay- 
ing upon his foul plea the emphasis of hungrily curl- 
ing serpentlike arms. “Ha, ha-a-a. Let me but get 
a few of these odd beings in the hug of these arms. 
Ha, ha-a-a-a-a-ah!” 

And one could see, then, the longer, slimmer member 
of the hideous group — more terrible, if such a thing 
could be, than the first — opening his cavernous croco- 
dile mouth as he padded wetly up on his short, flabby 
legs to concur in the horrible leer. “Put me but one 
of them — a young and tender-fleshed one, by choice — 
in these capable jaws, and I will answer for it.” 

Whereupon, with a hiss so daunting as to startle 
even his foul companions, the serpent whirled silently 
between, and raised his fiend’s head, from the 
pouches about which the slime oozed and dripped dis- 
gustingly. “S-s-s-s! S-s-s-s-s! List, my old ones. I 
speak little, but — S-s-s-s!” With a lightning flicking 
out of a famished red tongue, and a gleam from eyes 
that froze the blood, he rustled along, as the others 
drew out of his way. 

“But,” counseled the ancient dean of all hells, so 
old, so shriveled and loose-skinned, so unutterably evil 
and merciless that he might have lived eons before in 
the black depths of the surface seas when Arelli was 
young, “but hist, my children all — you of the many 
arms, you of the massive jaws, you of the slender 
coiling form, and all of you of the pack — list, my good 
children all, to one who was old before ever you licked 
a drop of sweet blood upon your chops. We have had 
a feast or two. Well. But you must wait a bit. We 
are not many yet. The little round door this new 
world was shut too soon, and more of our fellows can- 
not come from below. But” — his voice sank to a rat- 
tling, croaking whisper that made even the serpent 
draw back — “we shall soon be myriad. In the safe 
places I have found our kind are multiplying in thou- 



sands. In a while it will be in tens of thousands. Aye, 
if we can keep away from destruction for a space — 
millions, millions! Then, my sweet children — ha ha — 
then, then will we fall upon these sweet-tasting ones, 
and ” 

At some slight sound they slunk away, each watch- 
ing the others with evil, calculating suspicion in their 
lidless, unblinking eyes. 

All that, multiplied many times, one could picture 
from the soul-shaking sounds that shattered the quiet 
of the ennas, overreaching the soft whir of the great 
pumps that were making a new Eden for the Arel- 
lians — all that, and be, perhaps, far below the facts. 

Gradually the people began to be stricken with panic. 
The tale of the missing laborers at the abandoned 
well was told over many times, and yet many more, 
gathering force and circumstance from each retelling, 
until, from the sheer horror of it they must perforce 
talk of it in hoarse whispers, with furtive glances over 
the shoulders. 

It was said the worst had been suppressed, that many 
others had been taken by the beasts, of which losses 
they had not been allowed to know; that the King, 
bless him, had not wished to alarm or distress his sub- 
jects unnecessarily, and so had interdicted the telling 
of certain matters. 

Singularly enough (or perhaps naturally) for a peo- 
ple where water was scarce and valuable, the Arel- 
lians were fond of bathing and swimming, and this 
had been permitted in such of the storages as were 
used merely for irrigation. Indeed, storages had been 
installed on all levels to be convenient for the purpose. 
Swimming and aquatic parties were common, and had 
become a favorite form of sport. 

It will be remembered that the King had directed 
the Captain of the Guards to drag those storages — 
since it wmuld have been unthinkable to empty them — 
to make sure that none of the beasts had found refuge 
in them. This the guardsmen had set about diligently; 
but in the hundreds of miles of depth below the sur- 
face there were multitudes of the great tanks, and the 
guards were few in number, the people being peaceful 
and loyal. Therefore the work at best, was a for- 
midable one, requiring many erros to complete. The 
Captain had reasoned, and very intelligently, that if 
any of the beasts had got at large, they would be in 
the lowest levels, nearest their dens. So reasoning, he 
had started in the lowest level, planning to work up- 
ward. There could, therefore, be no blame to attach 
to him for the tragic happenings which occurred but 
a few erros after he had received the King’s directions, 
on a level many miles above the lowest one. No more 
could blame be put on the King for not forbidding 
all swimming in the storages. The searching of the 
reservoirs had been at best a matter of extra caution, 
really never meant to apply to more than a few of the 
levels lying nearest the bottom of civilization. 

A few of the young men and women had had a party 
at the reservoir in question. These places were, in a 
way, pleasure resorts — beach resorts — and there were 
places for lounging and taking refreshments between 
plunges. Some remained longer at the pool than 
others. Nothing alarming w r as apparent to any. There 
was no faintest supposition that any horror lurked in 
the middle of their gayety. No tentacles swished 
through the water to seize a victim. There was no fear 
in the heart of any, so far as known. 

When one of the party looked for another and failed 
to find him or her, it was merely supposed the one 
sought for had gone home. As the event drew to an 
end, departures had been frequent, until at the last, 
as in every sort of gathering, but a few remained, and 
only a bare couple or so in the water. Those on the 



540 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




What they saw made their 
blood run cold, A young girl was 
struggling below the surface. 









THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



541 



shore gave them no attention. It was only because of a 
slight gasp or exclamation, common enough, too, in the 
water, that a lingering pair of insatiable lovers on the 
bank had glanced casually at the two in the water. 

Then the horror fell upon them, for what they saw 
was a young girl, drawn struggling under the surface, 
in the grasp of tentacle-like arms ; and then, as her lover 
sprang to her, another curling arm had taken him with 
her. JThat had been all. Then there was silence in the 
pool. 

T HE alarm was given by the horrified lovers on the 
bank, but the place was almost deserted, and in 
their panic and terror no one thought to give the alarm, 
where it should have been given, but only to flee from 
the place with all speed that could be made. 

When at last the word reached the Captain of the 
Guards, he sent a messenger to go quietly and see the 
King alone and tell him of the tragedy and that he 
himself would report as soon as possible. Others he 
deputized to make a careful check of all the persons 
known to have been in the swimming party, and learn 
what ones had returned to their homes, or had been ac- 
counted for. Then he headed a company of his best men 
to the place of tragedy. They were heavily equipped 
with every weapon that could be of avail against the 
terrible unknown enemy. 

At the tank, they set lights to penetrate the water; 
and with glasses of special make they scanned the bot- 
tom, which showed every inch of itself as plainly as a 
man’s hand before him. But there was nothing there. 
No need, said the Captain, to drag it. There was noth- 
ing. So they went away, wondering, no wiser than 
when they came. 

But the check showed a full dozen people missing, 
with the possibility of more. 

A consultation was in progress at which the King, 
Captain Tullos of the Guards, Harding and Altara, 
and others were present, including old Mastono, who 
had just returned from Ylisae. 

“It is strange there were none of them in the tank. 
It must mean they have hiding places we do not know 
of.” It was Tullos. “I have gathered extra guards in 
numbers, and stationed a group at each of the larger 
storage reservoirs ready for them. I have a group 
guarding every tunnel between the stages to see if we 
cannot catch them passing from one level to another. I 
have issued arms to all and they are being taught the 
use of them ; and they have been warned to venture no- 
where except in groups, and no women or children ex- 
cept under guard. The gardens are being patrolled to 
protect the men at work ; the houses are all being pro- 
tected; the reservoirs are being dragged or examined; 
and I do not know what more to do.” 

“You have done well, Tullos,” commended the King. 
“There is no blame attached to you. I could not have 
done more myself. For my part, I have ordered the 
construction of as many houses on the surface as the 
crater will hold, and as they are completed we will move 
the people into them, beginning with the lowest level. 
Much of the rock for the buildings was quarried long 
ago. Ten thousand men are at work on the founda- 
tions and ten thousand more will begin work on the 
houses at the next erro, and they will work in shifts both 
erro-and enna.” , 

The Captain started up sharply. “Then I must go 
at once and begin getting them ready to move, Your 
Majesty.” 

“No, Tullos,” said the King, staying him with a 
gesture. “Your hands are more than full. I am having 
others do that. The first ones are already preparing and 
will begin moving at once. Some may be already on the 
way up. By the end of the next erro the lowest level will 



be empty, save for those who have work to do there, 
and they will be guarded. Every erro one level will be 
emptied. We shall have to learn how far up the beasts 
have got.” 

“But there will be some danger in bringing so many 
people to live on the surface, Altona,” objected the 
centenarian. “The atmosphere is not quite secure yet.” 

“Yes, there is some danger, Mastono, but not much, I 
think, and we must take that chance. I myself shall 
sleep on the surface to watch the people and give them 
help and confidence.” 

“Bravo, dad!” cheered Harding and Altara. “We will 
be with you.” 

“Thank you, my children, I foreknew as much. I 
have taken special precautions and it will be pretty safe, 
but for the present the houses will be furnished re- 
serve supplies of oxygen, and arrangements for closing 
them hermetically — also for heating them — in case of 
any interruption in the atmosphere.” 

“It would be wonderful to sleep under the ancient 
stars, Altona,” said Mastono wistfully. “It is a thing 
I have never done. I wonder if I may have a place 
among them.” 

The King smiled fondly at the centenarian, who had 
been his tutor in childhood and youth, and his chief 
adviser and loyal friend in his high office. “Knowing 
your spirit, my friend, I have your place already 
appointed next my own. Captain Tullos, you also I 
must have at hand. The other members of my house- 
hold will remain where they are for the time. We must 
give the houses to the frightened lower settlements, as 
fast as they are ready.” 

Harding had perfected his knowledge of the language 
of Arelli, so that he used it quite conveniently now, 
and had little difficulty following the proceedings. There 
was speculation as to how many of the beasts had 
escaped while the abandoned well had been left open; 
as to how they had made their way unobserved to the 
higher level where the tragedy of the aquatic park 
had taken place; as to how many levels they might be 
lurking on, and where; as to whether and how they 
multiplied; and many other things. 

No one had an answer to any of the questions. There 
was no way of knowing, except by ways that were be- 
ing taken already. It was unnecessary to lay a prohi- 
bition on aquatic parties, now. No one could have 
-been persuaded to go near the reservoirs, except those 
who had to perform duties there. 

Harding had been thoughtfully silent. He made a 
suggestion now, addressing it to Captain Tullos. “Cap- 
tain, if a man from a far away world may make a sug- 
gestion” — The Captain nodded cordially — “Had you con- 
sidered that these creatures would be likely to be, or at 
least might be, invisible while in the water, and that a 
mere examination of a reservoir might not reveal their 
presence?” 

“No, I had not, Mr. Harding,” admitted the guard 
with a guilty start. 

“Nor had I, Freddie, my son. Tell us about it.” 

“We have on Marelli creatures of various kinds that 
are transparent while in the water. They cannot live 
out of the water and die if exposed to the sun. It might 
be that these creatures on Arelli are the same, and if 
they are invisible, nothing but dragging would show 
them up.” 

The hint was taken as a valuable one, to be acted on in 
future searches. 

“You are a great man, Freddie, my dear One,” as- 
serted the Princess, kissing him, without shame or 
compunction, “a great man.” 

The gist of these portentous events had been re- 
ceived by Larry and Sanna, Billy and Mercedes, Pro- 
fessor Merriam, and their inside friends of earth, dur- 



542 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



ing the strange daily visits between the two worlds. 

“Didn’t I tell you, Billy” — it was Larry that spoke 
— “that there was a reason for rushing the work on the 
ship, even though I didn’t know what it was? Per- 
haps you’ll not laugh at my Irish hunches so much now.” 
Upton laughed. “Perhaps not, olhorse, though I 
laughed, not at you, but only at some of the things you 
said. There’s a big difference, you know. Almost as 
big a difference as between a big green spot — pardon me, 
I mean an increasing green spot, I think — between an 
increasing green spot and the ordinary garden variety 
of green spot— something like that. Vide, confessions 
of Frederick X. Harding.” 

T HEY laughed together companionably, though 
with a touch of anxiety in the background, and 
Sanna, always waiting to laugh, joined, though not 
more than half comprehending what Billy had said. It 
was enough that Larry laughed. Professor Merriam, 
albeit his old eyes could almost have been thought to 
twinkle — smoked and maintained the silence of age. 
Mercedes was up on the lake for the day, and Sanna had 
wondered the whole day long how it was that Billy could 
be gay in the face of such a calamity. She loved them 
all dearly, these Marellians. They were very sweet. 
But in spite of their sweetness, the ways of Marelli 
were not — well, not quite as those of Arelli. 

At the moment Sanna was thinking those things, 
Harding was having a quiet talk with old Mastono be- 
fore retiring for the enna. The King was about other 
things with Tullos. Altara was content to sit silently 
with her head on Harding’s shoulder, her lips moving 
from time to time softly against his neck. Harding 
and Mastono had found a great liking for each other, 
and Harding had been wishing for this chance to listen 
to him. He reminded him some way of Merriam, on 
the score of his broad wisdom, his sly sense of humor, 
and his grave kindliness. Mastono and Merriam must 
meet. 

He could see just how they would complement each 
other. Merriam had impressed him often as a lonely 
man in some way. Mastono the same. And it was even 
then passing through Harding’s mind that the great 
are often constrained into loneliness, in the beginning, 
because of the necessity of excluding themselves from 
free association with their fellows. They must do so, 
or they could not have the time to become wise and 
great. They must have their time to work — to work 
by day and to work by night. Only so could they be- 
come great and wise. And then, in the end, when they 
had taken on wisdom and greatness, then instead of 
withdrawing themselves from their fellows, their fel- 
lows withdrew themselves from them. The usual man 
does not seek nor care for the company of those he 
cannot understand ; those who speak deeply of things he 
cannot comprehend. Yes, thought Harding, as he sat 
listening to the wisdom of Mastono, and at once thrilled 
by the presence of the warm body of the golden Prin- 
cess in his arms, and the lips of her at his neck — ■ 
yes, he thought, greatness w T as constrained into loneli- 
ness, because of its very self. Let not the man seek 
greatness who would have the song and the dance of life ; 
the laughter and the lightness; the bodily thrills of 
wine and viands and pleasing gustations; who would 
live their lives in the company of gaming and play. 
The two lie along separate highways, and the highways 
end in different countries. And in the end, when pleas- 
ure and wisdom meet, they are become strangers and 
cannot well comprehend each the other. For what have 
the frivolous to do with the universe and all its sep- 
arate atoms? The bacteria and the blood? Or with 
electricity, or magnetism, or time and the deep curve 
of space? And what has the scientist in common with 



the frothy prattle of the debutante and parties and pink 
teas? Of “society” and cards and clothes? Of the 
paint and varnish with which these butterflies have 
chosen to cover the things he has made possible for 
them — covered deep, deep, so that their tender eyesight 
may not have to look upon the primitiveness of the 
things he loves? 

These things flashed through Harding’s mind in an 
instant. And he added the thought that in these days 
the scientist still might mate, because there were 
women who knew how to mate with the scientist, and 
still complement him, even as he had known Mastono 
and Merriam would complement each the other; even 
as this Royal Princess of Arelli. So that at last love 
and learning might go forward hand in hand to the 

goal of accomplishment. But Mastono was saying 

“Civilizations and science wax and wane” — the old 
man smiled gently — “and the interests of men, like the 
interests of children, change within comparatively nar- 
row limits of time. It is known that in remote ages 
the Arellians were able to observe affairs on your 
world in minute detail; but then that ability passed 
away from some cause and was lost, and it was only 
long afterward that it was recovered. How these things 
happen we do not know. The cycles are too long for us. 
At the time, a group of men was interested in the par- 
ticular thing ; then it may be that the instruments were 
destroyed and the men who had their secrets perished 
with them. Or, it may have been the result of some 
barbaric triumph over civilization; it may have been 
the result of various kinds of fanaticism against 
science ; it may have been the result of some other dis- 
aster, which set the whole civilization back into the far 
past; or, perhaps merely some overpowering interest 
called attention away. All that is only speculation, but 
it is certain that my people once possessed that ability, 
and lost it.” 

“Or, it may be,” put in Altara, when they had thought 
her all but asleep, “that Arelli passed through some 
inhospitable region of space that killed all her people.” 
“It may indeed,” said both men at once, surprised 
and pleased. 

“But that would have carried with it the destruction 
of all life in the solar system, including Marelli,” 
objected Harding. 

“That may indeed be,” mocked Altara gently, “or most 
of the life. But it is likely the marine life, or some of 
it, would have been saved, and all life came from the 
water in the beginning, anyway. It would mean only 
that evolution would have to do its work over again, but 
that is only a matter of time, and time is not important 
in universe matters.” 

There seemed no answer to that. 

“How far does your knowledge of life on Marelli ex- 
tend, friend Harding?” asked the centenarian. 

Harding hesitated a moment, “Well, our scientists 
can trace man from the time he first evolved from the 
ape-man, about the beginning, or just before the be- 
ginning, of our great glacial epoch, perhaps half a 
million years or more ago, right down to the present.” 
“Oh! I did not know that,” said Mastono. “I had 
understood that your history was comparatively recent.” 
“Well, so it is — our history; but they trace him 
through fossil remains they have found from time to 
time, you know. They say that the very early rocks 
show no signs of any living thing, or of any chemical 
deposit that would indicate the presence of life, and they 
say that at the time those rocks were laid down there 
was no life existing on the Earth. They call those rocks 
the Azoic Rocks, or Lifeless Rocks, because they are 
supposed to have been the result of the sinking of the 
first crust of the Earth, when no life had come yet. 
They find, then, above these Azoic Rocks others that do 



THE TERRORS OF, ARELLI 



543 



contain signs of the presence of life — primitive life. 
They begin there and trace right down — with some 
rather important breaks, to be sure — first through the 
fossil remains found in the rocks, and then, as men 
evolved and progressed, through the implements and 
things they find buried with the human skeletons, and 
finally, as man became a primitive artist, through the 
drawings on the walls of the caves, until gradually they 
get down to where our authentic history begins. Of 
course, when it comes to actual historical writings, we 
have none of any great age — nothing at all comparable 
to your marvelous records here on Arelli.” 

T HE centenarian sat musing a moment, then sud- 
denly: “You speak of your glacial epoch. How 

long did that last?” 

Harding blushed. “Why, I — of course that is hard 
to say. I am not informed technically on such matters. 
Whole lives must go into those studies, and we of other 
departments cannot work their problems through, but 
only pick off here and there casually a few of the 
answers they have set at the end of the book. But 
I think there is considerable difference of opinion.” 
“How wide a difference, may I ask?” 

Harding laughed. “You have me there. It seems to 
me I have read that the estimates run from 100,000 
years to as high as 800,000 or 900,000 years.” 

“And why so great a difference?” It was almost a 
whisper. 

“Why ? Why, because they are not sure.” 

“Yes. They are not sure ; and because their evidence 
is unreliable. As a matter of fact there is reason to 
suppose it lasted even longer than your highest figure. 
But” — he dismissed the matter with a wave of the 
hand — “the difference is trivial, after all. For how 
long a time do you estimate the physical conditions on 
Marelli have been such that human life could have sub- 
sisted there?” 

“0, I don’t know about that. The physical condi- 
tions of a planet change slowly— very slowly.” 

“They do. A million years is a mere erro in the 
evolution of a planet. It would not be fantastic to say 
that physical conditions have been fit to support human 
life on Marelli for anywhere from 500,000,000 to 1,000,- 
000,000 years. Even our history or tradition covers 
only the smallest fraction of that. But — suppose we 
take the modest estimate of 500,000,000 years as the 
time human life could have existed on Marelli. Com- 
pare 'Rfith that the estimate of 1,000,000 years ago as 
the beginning of your glacial epoch, and of your esti- 
mate of the appearance of man on Marelli. You have 
accounted for man during only one five-hundred-mil- 
lionth of the time he could have existed. What do you 
suppose was taking place during the other 499,000,000 
years that conditions have been fit for human life?” 
Harding grinned. “I am sure I do not know. A 
million years is as far back as my memory goes.” As 
he said that the thought flashed through his mind that 
it was an idiotic thing to say to this wise old scientist, 
and reminded him of Billy Upton — dear old idiot! 

“But let me tell you,” the centenarian pressed unre- 
lentingly, his old eyes snapping as he warmed to his 
theme, “when human life appeared on Marelli — or on 
any other planet: It appeared when conditions were 

fit for it. When conditions became fit for the primitive 
one-celled organism, that organism appeared ; when they 
improved so that a primitive marine animal could exist 
in your waters, the animal came; when more elaborate 
life could subsist, it came ; when conditions became hos- 
pitable for the very elaborate animal that is called man 
today, he came.” 

“That may well be,” admitted Harding. “I know al- 
most nothing about such things.” 



Old Mastono kept to his subject. His century and a 
half had left his mental tenacity unimpaired. “All right, 
Mr. Harding, but I have lived a long time, and I do know 
a little — only a little — of these things. I know that 
evolutionary conditions do not fit themselves to life : life 
fits itself to them. Life follows on the heel of condition. 
I know that the worlds were not made for Man, but 
that Man followed the course of change, and when his 
time had ripened, took his place as a casual and rela- 
tively insignificant link in the chain of evolution; and 
when unconsidering and relentless time makes condi- 
tions again inhospitable, he must be blown away again 
by a single breath of the Cosmos into the nothing 
from which he emerged. He must pass, even as the 
apes and the animals, the diamonds and the dust, the 
water and the air, the worlds themselves — not out of 
existence as something, but out of his identity as Man. 
But, as I was saying — it is not merely possible, but al- 
most certain, that human beings have existed upon 
your Marelli for a half billion years, and maybe vastly 
longer. Life runs in cycles ; but the cycles are so long 
and our lives are so short that we cannot observe their 
motion except with our intellects — our reason. It is 
like the movement of the distant stars. To our eyes 
they do not move. They are too far away. We cannot 
see their motion, though they move with great speed. 
It is as impossible for us to follow these vast cycles, as 
for an insect, born at the middle of the erro and dead be- 
fore its close, to observe and analyze the course of a 
human life. It is almost certain, I say, that scores of 
these cycles — these periodic surges of humanity — have 
begun at the bottom, reared themselves to dizzy heights, 
and passed away, since your Marelli was fit for Man. 
There is not the least evidence or reason for saying 
they may not have reached unthinkable heights above 
us. Each cycle might have been a million years long, 
or five million, or ten million years long. But mankind 
has been before — billions of years, perhaps. Men as 
good as we, and probably better; civilizations as good 
as our best and probably better.” 

“Then why do we find no trace of them or their 
doings?” 

“I can not say. Perhaps we do, though I think not. 
If we did we might not know it. In such vast cycles 
all things disappear. It may be that whatever ends, 
each cycle removes its tracks. The vastness of time has 
covered them so deeply or destroyed them so completely, 
that we cannot, or do not, find them. Things change 
continually. The only constant thing is change. Dust 
is cast into an ocean. It sinks to the bottom and be- 
comes mud; it becomes rock; the rock is cast up and 
disintegrates into dust again, only to go through the 
like process again and again, it may be. Your own 
world is in no small part composed of other worlds 
which have drifted its way as dust and settled down to 
stay. Some day it will be torn apart and blown about 
the cosmos and go to make other worlds. Man is too 
small for these things, Mr. Harding. He is born on a 
puff of wind and perishes with it. No doubt Man will 
have billions of years yet on Marelli; but — he will be 
erased and have to revolve many times.” 

A LTARA raised up, suddenly. “And when man 
. comes again, will he be man?” She was looking 
at Harding. 

Harding shook his head with a laugh and a kiss. "I 
don’t know, dear creature. Man thinks himself very 
great.” 

“O, of course,” smiled Mastono, “and properly so, if 
he does not allow himself to be blinded by his own re- 
flection; and so, doubtless, does the insect that is born, 
lives its life, and perishes while you sleep away an enna. 
But” — Mastono put the thought away with an impatient 



544 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



wave of the hand — “Man is so small compared with his 
world, and his world is so small compared with its solar 
system, and its solar system is but a speck of dust 
compared with its universe, and there are myriads of 
universes.” 

“Yes, that is true,” assented Harding. “I remem- 
ber reading years back a good illustration of that. Some 
eminent astronomer figured out that if Marelli were rep- 
resented by a drop of water and the universe were re- 
duced to the same scale, they would make a mighty 
ocean. If she were the size of a grain of sand, the 
universes would make a vast desert. If the size of her 
orbit about the sun (nearly 600,000,000 miles) were 
represented by the point of a pencil, the nearest star 
would be over two hundred yards away.” 

“Yes,” nodded Mastono thoughtfully, “that is very 
good.” 

“And he went on to say that if — some immense build- 
ing — I’ve forgotten its name* — contained nothing but 
specks of dust — I think it was six — the specks of dust 
would be more crowded in the building than the stars 
in space.” 

“Ha! That is splendid, Mr. Harding! That is an 
excellent thing. I should like to remember the name 
of the man who said that. Can you tell me ?” 

“Why, yes. It was an English astronomer — -England 
is one of our great countries on Marelli. Ilis name is 
Jeans. He is still living, I think.” 

Mastono made a note of it. “Would there be any 
objection if I made use of that in some class work, Mr. 
Harding?” 

Harding laughed. “I am sure Sir Jeans would be 
pleased to have his book quoted on Arelli. Only I am 
not quite sure that all of that came from Sir Jeans. 
The part about the specks did, though.” 

It was late into the enna when they ceased talking 
and Mastono said his old body was weary, what with 
the long journey and all. So they separated to sleep 
their last sleep in their underground homes. The next 
sleep would be under the black mantle of heaven, stud- 
ded thickly with celestial jewels. 

When they arose, they found the exodus of the peo- 
ple of the lower settlements begun. Hundreds had ar- 
rived and stacked their goods in the places designated, 
which were near the buildings they would occupy. Other 
hundreds were arriving. As each level was evacuated, 
it would be sealed off — perhaps forever — except for 
closed doors by which laborers might enter. There must 
be no more passing of the beasts. This would not in- 
terfere with the through tunnels to other craters, which 
ran near the surface. 

Thousands of laborers had toiled during the enna get- 
ting the foundations ready; and as the erro came on, 
the crews of builders were at work on the superstruc- 
tures, which went up as if by magic. While the houses 
appeared a little flimsy to Harding, accustomed to 
steel and concrete, they were astonishingly sound and 
fit for conditions at Copernicus. 

The foundations were made by the rapid and simple 
process of fusing the surface soil into a solid mass to a 
sufficient depth for a stable footing. The house was 
erected almost as simply. First, slabs of polished 
stone eight or nine feet high, a few inches thick, and a 
few feet wide, were set on edge on the foundation and 
fused to it; then other slabs were laid across them and 
fused in place. The openings were cut neatly and 
smoothly by a disintegrating torch, and the glass of the 
windows set in; then the doors, and the people moved 
in and began settling themselves into the marvelous 
new life of the surface. The dwellings were small at 
the start, but were so planned that they could be made 



larger and another story or stories added when there 
was more time. There was no rain to guard against; 
no cold or heat. The power ceiling miles overhead, 
that kept the air in the crater, automatically kept the 
temperature at the desired point. The climate would 
always be the same, except when altered as desired. 

It suddenly came to Harding, as he watched the miles 
of homes shooting up, that here was the setting for such 
a paradise as he had never reached in his fondest 
dreams. In his mind’s eye he pictured the rows and 
rows of homes rising along the broad talus of the 
cliffs — 150 miles in circuit these cliffs were — circling 
Lake Altara, with plenty of space between, with gardens 
and flowers. 

As for the beasts, it looked to Harding as if they were 
checkmated, which only showed how little he knew of 
the matter, for within a single erro’s time word cams 
from the surrounding craters of (to adhere to the 
Earth names as far as possible) Stadius, Eratosthenes, 
Kepler, Ptolemy, Aristarchus, and the Hyginus Valley, 
that there were signs of the arising of the beasts. 

From the fact that this account adheres in large 
portion to the crater Copernicus, because the main 
actors have dwelt there, it will not be supposed that 
Copernicus was in any respect unique, save as being the 
capital and residence of the King, and in some meas- 
ure, because the surface works had made greater prog- 
ress there. The inhabitants of hundreds of other cra- 
ters, both on the hemisphere visible to Earth, and on 
that which is always invisible, lived in almost exactly 
the same manner. 

The sub-Arellian settlements of each crater (save 
Copernicus, which was under the direct rule of the 
King) were under the local control of the King’s gov- 
ernors, who were selected from the local population, 
according to the people’s wishes. These governors 
ruled as they pleased, but subject to a strict accounting 
of their stewardship to the King. 

Nor was the knowledge of the sub-surface beasts 
confined to the capital. They were supposed to exist 
beneath all of the craters — in fact more or less through- 
out the interior of Arelli. They had been heard in the 
lowest strata of several of the craters. It only chanced 
that circumstances had brought about their first actual 
depredations at Copernicus. 

Neither were the preparations for surface living 
limited to Copernicus. It was a wide-flung policy of 
the King who occupied the throne at the time. 

The King had caused warning against the beasts to 
be sent out to all governors, with complete details from 
time to time of the action taken and proposed against 
them. So that the governors were not taken completely 
by surprise, even though it had been supposed that the 
escape of the beasts at Copernicus had been the fault 
of the abandoned well being left open, and other out- 
breaks had not been expected elsewhere. 

T HIS raised other questions. Had the matter of 
the well been responsible? Or had it merely as- 
sisted the beasts in the particular case? In either 
event, how had they escaped in the other craters? It 
was incredible that they passed from crater to crater by 
the highway tunnels. Evidently the matter required 
further looking into, if Arelli was to prevent its people 
being smothered out of being beneath the slimy, crawl- 
ing horde. 

Harding had been waiting impatiently for Mastono 
to announce what it was that he had gone to his old 
home at Ylisae to bring. The next time they talked to- 
gether, the centenarian opened the subject. 

“When I was young,” said Mastono, “I had some part 
in reorganizing the records. That was at the old capi- 
tal, Ylisae, where I have lived a large part of my life. 



♦Waterloo Railroad Station in London. 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



545 



During that work I found a strange thing. It was our 
custom to test each record after we re-installed it, to 
make sure it was in order. Our records are contained, 
as I think you already know, Mr. Harding, in the 
molecular structure of minute wires or tapes of pre- 
pared metal, uniform in size and composition.” 

Harding nodded. “Yes.” 

“Well, the test showed the wires of one cabinet to 
be blank — or, at least, they refused to produce anything 
when subjected to the ordinary tests. That might have 
meant merely that the particular tape had not been 
used, and had been placed among the others by acci- 
dent. But my assistant, who discovered it, was a very 
intelligent fellow, and instead of casting it aside, he 
made some experiments on it to see if he could not 
bring out what had been recorded on it, if anything. 
In this he did not succeed. The record could not be 
persuaded to reproduce any flashes of sight or any 
sounds. Even he might then justifiably have discarded 
it, and probably would have done so, had he not seen 
that the cabinet in which it was housed was of a dif- 
ferent make from the others, or any he had ever seen. 

“So he set it aside for the time, and later brought 
it to me. The peculiar appearance of the cabinet was 
perhaps all that restrained me from throwing it away 
at once. It was easy to see that it was of very ancient 
make. But when I examined it carefully, I saw it was 
really unique and concluded it was worth investigating 
further, though I cannot say, even now, that I had 
much to go on. At any rate, I put it by, and being busy 
with many other matters, left it for years. Finally 
something drew my attention to it again, and I set to 
work on it. At last I found its secret and succeeded in 
reproducing what it contained. It had been recorded 
by a somewhat different process. 

“The contents I found astonishing, and that is what 
I have just been to Ylisae to fetch.” He sat silent for 
a few minutes, gazing out the windows across Lake 
Altara and the cultivated region around it, to “Atti 
Bettor,” and the other mountain cones beyond. It was 
plain that the novelty and wonder of the surface living 
was still on him. After a while he rose from his revery 
and went to a table on which stood the ancient metal 
cabinet. He put his hand on it as fondly as if it had 
been a favorite child. “You see this little cabinet, Mr. 
Harding? It is of a kind that is known no more on 
Arelli.” He made an electric connection, passing the 
current through a small mechanism which he put on 
the table beside the ancient cabinet. 

“You see the lettering on the outside? It is so an- 
cient that all our efforts have failed so far to decipher 
it completely, though we have made out some of it. 
The characters have changed. But we have been more 
fortunate with the words which the record reproduces. 
It, too, is so old as to be greatly changed, but we have 
been able to translate the greater part of it, though not 
quite all. Its age I do not know, though it must have 
been originally dictated a very long time ago, and deals 
with a period much more remote. It is some sort of 
review or digest of previous records, which are still 
existent and may be a milllion years old. I cannot say 
yet. I wish to speak of them, also.” 

Harding sat up straight in astonishment. “Why that 
seems impossible, my friend. Can a thing of metal en- 
dure half a million years?” 

Mastono shook his head. “I do not know. Possibly. 
But I said ‘originally dictated.’ The records may have 
been renewed by the simple process of either re-dicta- 
ting the contents or having them re-dictate their own 
contents on other records. The tape itself shows that. 
Perhaps it may have been renewed several times. I do 
not know about that. At any rate, the voice you will 
hear is not the original one. Though itself very old, 



it is a long way removed from the original one. I do 
not know how long the old records lasted. Our own 
present records, which are over 200,000 years old, have 
never been renewed so far as I know, though they may 
have been. Two hundred thousand years is a long time. 
If they have not been, they will be at some time, 
or a digest of their important parts, when they begin 
to fail, if they ever do. In that way there is no reason 
why history could not be preserved for millions of years 
— perhaps forever” — he looked up apologetically, add- 
ing, “whatever the word ‘forever’ may mean.” 

W ITHOUT further ado, he flicked a switch and the 
voice in the cabinet began to speak in what to 
Harding, in spite of his growing mastery of Arellian, 
was an unfamiliar tongue. After letting it run for 
a while, Mastono shut it off, and took from a drawer a 
sheaf of sheets containing writing and drawings. He 
explained that these had been made at his direction 
from the instructions that were contained in the an- 
cient record. He selected one drawing larger than the 
others, and spread it out before them. It was a geo- 
graphical chart or map of a section of country, and the 
several crater-like formations said that the country was 
on Arelli. Plainly, it was the dry bed of an ancient 
ocean enclosed within a frame of mountains on three 
sides. Harding was too good a selenographer not to 
recognize it at a glance. 

“The Lai Estoti,” he said. “We call it the Mare Im- 
brium, or Sea of Showers. Not far from Copernicus.” 
Mastono nodded briefly and selected a written sheet. 
“Draw a line,” he read, “from the center of Plato to 
the center of Copernicus.” 

Harding followed the line on the plate across the 
Sea of Showers, near the middle, and Mastono con- 
tinued to read. 

“Draw a line from the center of Aristillus to the 
center of Aristarchus. Where the lines come together 
is a very deep part of the Lai Estot, which still con- 
tains some water when this record is made. From the 
middle of this water two mountain peaks rise. Draw a 
line due north of the summit of the higher peak about 
nine lenni, to the foot of the cliff. Pass north on a 
level into the cliff and enter a natural cavern. Buried 
under a great crystal pillar are the ancient historical 
records of the people who have dwelt on the surface 
of Arrall (Arelli), and who are leaving the surface for- 
ever to dwell below the ground. The records we can- 
not take with us. Perhaps some day some one will re- 
turn for them. They speak both of Arrall and Massall 
(Marelli), for many iltellos.” 

Mastono replaced the sheets and sat down, and Hard- 
ing walked to and fro. There was a long silence, broken 
by Mastono. 

“My friend, nobody knows how long ago it was that 
the people of Arelli left the surface. The dates given 
in these records do not help us, because they do not 
connect with our own, and we do not know what time 
they date from. It may be half a million years, or much 
longer. These buried records which are spoken of in 
this old cabinet may run back a million, or several 
million years — the originals of them. If the surface 
people preserved their records by reproducing them 
from time to time, we cannot tell how many million 
years they may cover. They could be preserved in 
that manner as I have said.” He pointed a finger at 
Harding. “And you of Marelli are as much concerned 
as we, for evidently your history is there as well as our 
own. You remember I told you that formerly our peo- 
ple had the ability to observe in detail the happenings 
on Marelli.” 

“Yes, friend Mastono, that is true. We must get 
those records. As soon as the ships return from Marelli, 



546 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



we will take the Termluna and go to the place where 
they are. We will get them. Larry is going to bring 
the old Terraluna back, and also bring the new ship, 
which we have agreed to christen the Altarasanna. The 
Altarasanna is finished and ready now except for cer- 
tain instruments which Larry has been promised very 
soon. Larry has a man who will pilot the Terraluna 
while he navigates the Altarasanna.” 

Mastono’s face was wistful. “I should like to see 
those records before I die, Mr. Harding. I am get- 
ting old.” 

Harding gave his hand to the centenarian. “You 
shall, my friend. I promise them to you. We will go 
as soon as we can after the ships arrive.” 

Tears of joy and gratitude sprang into the eyes of 
Mastono at the rebirth of a hope that had been all but 
lost, and he turned away to hide them — turned away 
to look through the windows across Lake Altara, then 
to raise his eyes to the myriads of stars always shining 
in the black firmament of Arelli. 

T HUS the Princess found them as she came in from 
the receptions she had to attend. Her face was 
graver than Harding had ever seen it, but she smiled 
at them and went to lie a while in the arms of her 
husband before speaking of anything. 

“My dear one,” she said, at last, “do you think Larry 
and Sanna had better come to Arelli now, when there 
is such danger? The beasts are breaking out all over 
Arelli, and no one can say how they are doing it or 
what the end will be. Many hundreds of our people 
have been killed in a score of craters. Do you think 
we should let them come now?” 

“Why, of course, sweetheart. The beasts are not go- 
ing to harm us. They will be killed or driven back be- 
low. Of course the people from Marelli must come. 
There will be Larry and Sanna, Billy and Mercedes, 
Professor Merriam, and several others, perhaps. They 
will help us against the beasts. Merriam is studying 
the matter even now. And then, at the worst I should 
want the ships here, if it became necessary to take you 
and dad and Mastono here, and a few others away.” 
Altara shook her head. “That could never be, my 
dear one. My father would not leave his people to 
perish, nor would I. I am the Princess of Arelli, dear 
one.” 

They put such thoughts aside as far as they could, 
and went out to see the work of building. It seemed as 
if magic were being wrought. Row upon row of the 
dwellings were already growing with mushroom speed, 
from the line of the cultivated area of the “increasing 
green spot,” back almost to the edge of the sheer cliffs 
of the crater side. Thousands were already occupied, 
and teeming caravans of people and goods were ar- 
riving by erro and enna. 

Several of the lowest levels had already been emptied 
of their inhabitants and closed, and every level from 
the lowest to the highest was now closed against the 
passage of the beasts. It was felt that they could not 
have reached the higher levels, and that these would 
now be safe for living, as well as for producing the food 
without which all would be lost. And it did seem, as 
the erros came and went, that the instant and vigorous 
action of the King had saved the greater part of Coper- 
nicus from the beasts. Not a sign of them had ap- 
peared above the level of the aquatic park where the 
disaster had occurred. If they could be kept below this 
level, there would be room in the caverns and settle- 
ments, and along the tunnel-ways for many refugees if 
they came, and the food could be raised to feed them by 
extending the gardens and applying forced growth. A 
crop could be planted and brought to edibility in a few 
erros. Possibly even the lower levels could be utilized 



in an emergency, by establishing enough defenses. Each 
of the settlements of any level could be shut off from all 
the others by closing the tunnels, and as the surface 
buildings progressed and men cculi be spared, this 
work was put under way. 

It was the King’s idea that Copernicus must be made 
and kept safe as a refuge for the ' • • . : in case it 
came to leaving their homes in the ether .raters. As 
yet there had been no influx from the taker tarts of 
Arelli. 

On account of conditions it was th: .rat ~lse t: keep 
secret the arrival of the ships trim Marti; as the 
gathering of crowds was deemea tar desirable. So it 
came about at the beginning of at err; aaat the Ter- 
raluna settled down into the crate: as :: etby as any 
vessel dropping anchor in its htrte 7 rt : ra a casual 
voyage. Shortly the Altarasa lay t .as trailer mate. 

Dannie Marston and Gaston Per: t. — . : : Larry’s 
assistants at Altara Mountain, ha: trtttrk: ;ver the 
Terraluna, while the others ha: . e: the Altara- 
sanna. The former were tall, lean . - • :: keen eyes 

and ready smiles and wit, with t-arar — ty" looking 
out from their eyes. 

There was more kissing than hat : — : •• n on Arelli 
for a hundred iltellos. Mercedes . — k e : she ; ; ild spare 
her arms from Altara, ran to Pit; t: an: then re- 
leased herself to fly to the King in ■ — .r.imitable 

way and give him enough kisses tt • — : t nt in tasting 
for many erros and ennas; the ra il Jrtntesi of Arelli 
kissed Larry and shamelessly bent : »t:: embrace Pro- 
fessor Merriam; Billy Upton kisse-b m - Princess until 
Mercedes vowed she was ashairu: : : — Larry and 

the King joined hands, when they . : . tee at each 

other, in a grip that bruised the fee: mi bent the 
bones. 

Dannie Marston and Gaston Fee " -*e it m: gener- 

ously introduced by Larry as the : et - - J y respon- 
sible for the prompt and efficient tr-ei: t : the Alta- 
rasanna. Both were airmen to the the re:-:.; -. 

At last two old men stood near e 1 . : th. - r Merriam 

offered his hand. “You are Mast t n t I kr ~ I greet 
you, my old friend.” The grip was 1 - tne, even if 
it had perhaps not the muscular r-:~er :: the y; unger 
ones. “Merriam, my friend,” sail the . Tartarian, 
“you are thrice welcome to Arelli. There ::e a hun- 
dred things I am waiting to ask ; : . — - . 1 thou- 

sand, I think.” They drew a little ast ir M;w how is 
it that”— etc. etc. 

Others came up to greet and welcome the re~: tmers. 
It may be that the petite Sanna strutter her pretty lit- 
tle body a bit importantly on the sccre :f having be- 
come an interplanetarian traveler atti ..t.tem It 
may be that Irish Larry gave himself an air ;: ~n of 
justifiable pride over the new ship, and hi; a;; trtplish- 
ments in respect thereto. It is certain the nv: inters 
stood dumfounded at the vast surface settlement that 
had grown up in Copernicus. Some remembered seeing 
Altara go to Mercedes impulsively and say; "0. Mer- 
cedes, how I love you!” And hearing the warm-hearted 
Spanish girl reply, “ 0 , Altara, you beautiful gulden 
creature! I wish I were a blonde!” Which latter it is 
doubtful if the Princess comprehended by more than 
the half. 

Harding’s soul was delighted by the old affectionate 
appellations of olhorse, oleheese, olbean, and many 
others too long, for it is almost certain that his re- 
mark, “Billy you damn old idiot,” should be so in- 
terpreted. Fortunately Sanna’s command of the lan- 
guage acquired from her earnest study at the Mountain 
was sufficient to restrain her from addressing His 
Majesty the King by any of the more cordially am- 
biguous titles which she had heard fall so gracefully 
from the lips of Billy Upton. 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 547] 



B Y and by they were all seated at a big table in the 
King’s own surface house, and some were partak- 
ing of their first meal on another than their home 
planet. 

The royal dwelling had need to be large, seeing the 
number of people of one sort and another it must house. 
It was by no means complete as yet — only enough of it 
for temporary purposes. The King would not permit 
the attention of the workmen to be given to anything 
like luxury for himself until the wants of his people 
had been fully served in the matter of surface homes. 
The telephone system of his underground quarters had, 
however, been connected directly to the new dwelling, 
so that messages might be received and sent without 
delay at any hour of the erro or enna. By the King’s 
side at table stood a small box-like affair through which 
he received and sent messages without the necessity of 
moving from his place. 

Hardly had the reunion meal begun when a message 
came through from the two craters of Esoh and Evas, 
to the east. It was bad news, too. The King had ad- 
vised the evacuation of these two unimportant craters, 
both of which were small, having a population of but a 
few thousand. No surface works had been inaugurated 
there because of their projected abandonment. The 
underground tunnel roadways were inadequate and in- 
complete, and in spite of repeated warnings of the 
necessity of being prepared in case of the appearance of 
the beasts, the matter of guards had been attended to 
only indifferently and half-heartedly. Such guards as 
had been stationed were as apt as not to be asleep at 
their posts. 

This, it appeared, was about what had happened, for 
the word, that came to the King now, was that the 
beasts had appeared almost simultaneously in the two 
little craters, which were near together, swarming over 
and smothering out the whole populations with the ex- 
ception of a bare remnant that was fleeing through the 
tunnels to the nearest crater, Grimaldi. 

Little could be done. The King instructed Tullos, 
the Captain of the Guards, whom he kept at his side 
constantly, to get Grimaldi and issue a warning that 
if the tunnel leading eastward had not already been 
closed, it should be done at once, only making provision 
for the passage of the panic-stricken refugees from 
Evas and Esoh. It was learned later that the beasts 
had overtaken the fleeing survivors in the tunnels and 
destroyed them all. 

The vast crater of Grimaldi and near-by Riccioli, a 
thousand miles to the east of Copernicus, Kepler but a 
short distance east of Copernicus, Eratosthenes to the 
north, the Hyginus Valley to the west, and Ptolemy and 
Herschel to the south — all these and other neighbors 
of Copernicus, and therefore under the more intimate 
oversight of the King, had taken every possible means 
of defense. While all of these had joined enthusiastic- 
ally in the King’s plans for return to surface living, 
Kepler and Erathosthenes in particular, were fully 
abreast of the capital itself. Kepler, under the able 
governorship of a brother of King Altona, had had but 
a slight outbreak of the beasts, which had been promptly 
and effectually crushed. The surface dwellings were 
even in advance of the capital. 

On the other side of the picture, Plato, near the north 
pole, Anristarchus to the southeast of Plato, Aristillus 
and Linne in the Sea of Serenity, Proclus and Atlas, in 
the northwest — all were fighting for their very lives, 
desperately trying to hold the scourge in check while 
dispatching their women and children and aged through 
the tunnels to the safer places. 

Tycho, at the south pole, fifty miles in diameter and 
17,000 feet deep, was energetically and ably defended, 
while Bailly in the Doerfel Mountains, 180 miles long, 



Clavius 143 miles long, and the black hole o'f Blancanus, 
24,000 feet deep — all were in distress. 

And so the story went, all over Arelli. It seemed as 
if the issues were definitely joining for the life or death 
of Arelli; the question being pressed as to who should 
rule for the future — humans or ghastly beasts. 

“How does it happen, sir,” asked Larry across the 
table, “that the beasts break out in the craters only? 
Why don’t they break out to the surface as well? I 
don’t suppose they have any way of knowing what lies 
above them.” 

The King turned to answer Captain Tullos, who had 
come in and spoken quietly in his ear. The conversa- 
tion was extended, and the faces of both were grave and 
drawn. But when Tullos had gone hurriedly out the 
King smiled fondly at Larry. “Why, my boy, I suppose 
they show themselves in the craters because in them 
the excavations have been carried to such depths as to 
be easier of access — however they get access. But they 
may also appear on the surface, too. We have no way 
of knowing, since we do not ourselves go upon the sur- 
face generally. If any have got through to the sur- 
face they have no doubt perished. I wish they were 
all there. As to how much the beasts know about the 
surface — how intelligent they may be — I can say noth- 
ing of that, except by surmise, and one man’s sur- 
mise is as good as another’s.” 

Professor Merriam had broken off something he had 
been saying to Mastono, to listen. “Yes, yes, of course, 
Your Majesty. Yes. But still, these — er — beasts have 
lived on the moon — er — on Arelli, for a great many 
thousand of years — a great many tens of thousands — 
and it may be — it may well be, that they have developed 
some sort of beastly intelligence, or even a low form 
of central control. Yes. It may even be that the 
various species of beasts have united under the domin- 
ion of overlords or rulers from among their higher in- 
telligences.” 

All looked at Merriam as if trying to make out 
whether he were perpetrating a jest but the Professor 
shook his head gravely, as he continued. 

“No, no, my friends. No. You think I am gone a 
little crazy, from the change of — of climate. But I as- 
sure you I am serious. No. Wherever human being3 
have existed there have been always subjects of stories 
or fables, concerning demons, or devils, or evil spirits. 
My friend Mastono here, has told me the same stories 
exist on Luna — er — Arelli. These demons always live 
in dens or terrible places under the ground; always 
they are said to be companions of the fire, or noxious 
fumes and vapors; always they live in darkness or a 
phosphorescent light; always they are variously and un- 
pleasantly shaped. There is never a tradition or super- 
stition that is not based on something real — some ele- 
ment, at least, of truth. Which makes me think the 
like of this trouble has been experienced before.” 

It was Billy Upton who broke the brief silenoe en- 
suing. He threw up his hands in mock protest. “My 
dear old ch — er — old friend and savant, how you do 
harrow our feelings. You have made me swallow a — a — 
whatever you call these things — whole and I think it is 
about to choke me. And I distinctly heard her Royal 
Highness ” 

“Billy, don’t be an ass!” — Harding. 

“But Freddie, my dear old overripe tomato! Why 
terrify the ladies? Tough nuts like you and me and 
the Professor — all O. K., of course. It’s a pleasure to 
us. Nothing could frighten us — er — worse than we are 
already, but ” 

“Billy, do hush!” It was Mercedes, and a soft hand 
cut off whatever remained of Upton’s remarks. “Papa 
Merriam, do go on with your perfectly abstruse re- 
marks. Billy is very rude, as I may have said before, 



548 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



and when I get him alone — do go on, daddy Merriam.” 
Upton subsided. “All right, little peach blossom, I’m 
done. As nothing but a husband, I submit.” 

“Hush, Billy.” But she kissed him, and something 
about the proceeding made Altara, only half compre- 
hending the verbal passages, lean over and kiss her hus- 
band, too. 

“Yes, yes, my dear Mercedes,” said Merriam. “You 
are right — er — that is, I mean, Billy is right, although 

I may say, you are also ” 

“Sure, Professor, an’ we’re all of us all right. Some- 
times I even think I’m right meself — at the same time 
askin’ the pardon of the little colleen here.” 

T HEY all laughed at Larry’s words, and the meal 
finished in lightness and jollity, even though stark 
tragedy stalked on Arelli. But it is always so. Man 
has laughed in the intervals between the turns of the 
rack of flashes of fiendish agony. Man has laughed 
with the fire eating his flesh away, and in the face of 
death itself. They laughed, though they did not know 
at what hour they should all be overwhelmed by the 
demon hordes from below. It is Nature’s wise pro- 
vision that her children shall laugh. 

Merriam and Mastono went off to continue some argu- 
ment. The three young girls went over to the old under- 
ground royal quarters, where Altara and Sanna wanted 
to show many things to Mercedes, and perchance, for all 
a man can know, to speak among their woman selves of 
certain toward events. 

The King and Larry, Harding and Billy Upton, re- 
mained to talk together, and the three latter to smoke — 
a habit the King half wished, half feared to form. In- 
deed he had tried a cigarette once in strict confidence, 
but in his awkwardness had lodged a piece of tobacco in 
the wrong place and coughed half the enna before he 
could dislodge it. 

We cannot resist the temptation, here, to let the 
reader listen but a moment to the learned discourses of 
the centenarian and the professor — just a moment, be- 
fore readjusting the dials to the wave length of the 
royal party. It is the learned Merriam speaking — Mer- 
riam, A.B., A.C., A.D., and all the rest of the alphabet. 

“No, no! Don’t swallow it, my friend ! Watch me a 
moment. See? It is very simple. It is really a most de- 
lightful practice. It soothes the nerves. It assists in 
concentration and contemplation. It— now try again, 
my friend. You will get it in a moment. Go easy at first. 
Just draw the smoke into your mouth and blow it out 
again. That’s it ! That’s it ! Splendid. Yes, yes. You’ll 
learn. Just keep trying. Yes.” 

Picking up the genial Billy in the middle of a sen- 
tence — “same time, I just speak of it, though Professor 
Merriam won’t thank me to steal his thunder and light- 
ning. If he roars about it, Freddie, olhorse, you might 
just say Mercedes gave it away. He’s afraid of Mer- 
cedes.” 

Harding was serious at once. “That’s the first real 
idea I’ve heard yet, dad. Billy’s so darn modest that 
when he has an idea he tries to palm it off on somebody 
else. Do all your pumping from the reservoirs on the 
abandoned levels and dry them up, and it may stop these 
beasts from multiplying in the water. As far as we 
can be sure, they haven’t escaped except through the 
open hole, and there can’t be many of them loose below 
us here.” 

The King nodded. “I will do that at once.” 

Upton went on. “Then concentrate heavy forces with 
heat guns, or whatever you call your local Gatlings here, 
and drive them back gradually and seal off every foot of 
space you can gain.” 

“Yes, that’s being done, Billy,” said the King. 

“All right, then, keep it up till we reach the bottom, 



and we’re bound to find out eventually whether they’re 
still coming through from below, and if so, where, and 
to stop them.” 

And so it went on for hours, suggestions one after 
another being made, considered, and adopted, modified, 
or discarded. At last Harding spoke of the wish of 
Mastono to visit the cavern of the ancient records, and 
his promise to take one of the ships and help try to 
uncover them. 

“No reason why you should not go, Freddie, my son,” 
assented the King. “There is nothing you can do here 
any more than is being done.” 

“But have you thought of how you are going to land 
and excavate into that cliff, old bean ? You know the air 
and the climate and things on the surface here aren’t 
just regular.” 

“Yes, that’s all fixed, Billy. Dad is going to let us 
have some of the suits worn by the workmen when they 
had to go up to the surface in installing the power ceil- 
ing and things. No trouble about that, I think. The 
people can go on the surface if they want to, the only 
reason they don’t being that they have no occasion to.” 

And so it was arranged to start soon on the pleasant 
but none the less hazardous adventure of the search for 
the ancient records. The party was to consist of Mas- 
tono and Merriam, Harding, Upton, and Larry. The 
Princess declared for remaining behind, and Mercedes 
decided to stay with her. Sanna was more difficult. 
There might be danger, she said, and she would go 
watch over Larry. But the two girls at last won her to 
remain, which was more than a man could have done, 
and it was a relief to the men of the expedition. But 
this was only conditioned on the adventurers keeping 
in constant touch with home by radio and television. 
Marston and Perot elected to remain with the Terra- 
luna, which had become as near to them as their meat 
and drink. 

The Altarasanna was carefully equipped. Instruments 
for determining the position of the peaks in the Lai 
Estoti were a part of her ordinary fittings. Surface suits 
for all were got out and carefully gone over. Every 
available sort of weapon was provided. The beasts 
were abroad, and nobody knew what they might have 
to meet before they got back. Tools for the excavation 
into the record cavern, lamps for lighting the cavern, a 
surface car for the removal of the records to the ship, 
with tackle for hoisting them should they prove of great 
weight, and many other things were provided. 

The trip was but a few hundred miles, and could 
easily be made in a couple of hours. How long their 
labors would require was a matter of conjecture. The 
King found opportunity in the absence of the women to 
caution them gravely to be on their guard in the matter 
of the beasts, particularly upon entering the ancient 
cavern. This warning, however, was hardly needed, as 
it was difficult for anyone to forget for so much as an 
hour the menace that hung heavy over all alike on 
Arelli. 

Mastono, despite his 160-odd years, was as eagerly 
excited as a child, at the prospect of sailing over the 
surface of the planet. It would be a feat that he would 
be the first living member of his race to accomplish, 
certainly the first for untold thousands of years — except 
for little Sanna. He vowed aside to Merriam, that it 
was well worth living a century and a half for the great 
adventure. All in all, he became so excited that he 
choked on the new and delightful habit of smoking 
which Merriam had taught him with such pains. As the 
moorings were about to be cast free, the King remem- 
bered to caution them gravely for the third time to be 
careful in using the disintegrating torches on the air- 
less surface, as a slight accident to a surface suit would 
mean instant death to the wearer. 






549 



THE TERRORS <0F ARELLI 




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550 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



T HE Altarasanna rose majestically until she was 
above the surrounding rim of Copernicus, above 
the power ceiling, out in the cold blackness of the ether, 
then with a reassuring signal to those looking up from 
below, they gathered speed and shot away toward the 
north and out of sight. 

Sufficient elevation was made at once to raise the 
crater of Plato, inasmuch as a direct line between Plato 
and Copernicus was one of the determinators of the lo- 
cation of the ancient cavern of the records. It would 
then be necessary only to bear in the direct line until 
intersecting a straight line between Aristillus and Aris- 
tarchus, when they should be at their destination. To 
the men from Marelli it seemed as if it might be a 
well nigh impossible task to distinguish either Aristillus 
or Aristarchus from the multitudes of other craters 
which came within their view as they arose to a height. 
But old Mastono knew his craters. Every detail of both 
those that he sought was impressed indelibly upon his 
mind from the study of plats and other data, and with- 
out the use of any references he was able, by dint of 
puffing gravely on the pipe Merriam had given him, 
and the use of glasses, to locate both. 

As the Altarasanna neared the intersection of the 
line between Aristillus and Aristarchus, she was 
brought down to a few hundred feet from the ground 
and her speed reduced to a mere crawl, while Mastono 
and Harding scrutinized the surface eagerly. Presently 
they found themselves over a deep, oblong valley with 
two peaks rising from the bottom. Directly ahead of 
them at a short distance the northern side of the valley 
ended in sheer cliffs. The record had said about nine 
lenni, which would equal something like a quarter of a 
mile and this they judged would be about the distance 
from the higher of the two peaks to the foot of the cliff. 
They knew they had reached the spot where the ancient 
cavern was located. Just at the shore of what had been 
a part of the Lai Estoti, and running up near to the cliff, 
was a gently sloping place that would do very well to 
land. This they did without incident, as near to the 
cliff as they could. 

Before preparing to disembark (having had radio 
connection with Copernicus and received divers and 
sundry further warnings from the women) they ex- 
amined the locality with care. There was no trace of 
anything alarming, and they had seen nothing of the 
sort on the way from Copernicus. If the beasts had 
braved or blundered upon the inhospitable surface of 
Arelli, it had not been thereabout, apparently. 

But the cliff extended unbroken for miles and as no 
trace of any markings was visible on its face, it would 
first be necessary to run an accurate line north from 
the top of the taller peak. This would be the work of 
only a few minutes with a compass. 

They looked over the surface suits again carefully. 
Their very lives depended upon these. A slight imperfec- 
tion, permitting the cold to come in or the air to escape 
would mean instant death. Having assured themselves 
that all was well, and adjusted the tiny radio sets inside 
the headpieces to enable them to communicate with 
each other on the airless, and therefore non-sound-con- 
ducting surface, they put the suits on and let themselves 
out upon the ground. Larry and Upton carried the dis- 
integrating torches with which they would bore their 
way into the cliff, and Merriam and Mastono carried 
lights, while Harding brought the compass and certain 
other instruments. 

Harding proceeded to determine a line due north of 
the peak, while the others waited eagerly. The im- 
patience of old Mastono mounted to fever pitch. His 
eyes shone brightly through the window of his head- 
piece, and he moved about nervously. Merriam was 
quieter, though undoubtedly almost as excited as the 



centenarian. The point of attack fixed, Larry poised 
a disintegrating torch at the place indicated and was 
about to turn it on. Harding had just cautioned him 
to have a care in its use, when Merriam raised a hand. 

“Just a moment, Larry, my boy.” He turned to 
Mastono. “My friend, the directions which we are fol- 
lowing were written very many thousands of years ago, 
were they not?” 

Mastono nodded, impatient at the slightest delay. 
“Of course.” 

“Well, then — I had no thought of it until this very 
moment, but north a hundred thousand years ago, or 
two or three hundred thousand years ago ” 

Mastono saw the point instantly. Evidently he had 
not thought of it either. He threw up a hand. “Ah! 
What a fool I am! Now I shall have to make some long 
and difficult calculations. Let us go back into the ship. 
We must— I do not even know if I can calculate where 
north would have been when the directions were written, 
because I do not know how long ago it was done. It 
may be two hundred thousand, or five hundred thousand 
years.” He made a determined gesture. “But come — 
we must try.” 

While Merriam and Mastono were making their cal- 
culations, a report was again made to Copernicus, more 
cautions received, and then the three younger men went 
out again to make another careful examination of the 
cliff. Perhaps they could find some markings to show 
them where to start in. Perhaps the person who wrote 
the directions had not thought of the change in the 
points of the compass during the thousands of years 
that might ensue before the ancient cavern of the rec- 
ords would be sought ; otherwise it did seem that a mark 
would have been made, even though the directions were 
silent about it. 

But though they scrutinized every foot of the cliff, 
they found nothing, and returned to the ship to await 
the completion of the mathematical calculations, even 
though it was apparent these might bring no great 
certainty. 

T HEY found the two older men hallowed in smoke, 
hard at their figures, so after closing the airlocks 
of the ship, they put off their surface suits, sent another 
message to Copernicus, and sat down where they could 
look out toward the cliffs. Somewhere along that rocky 
face was the right place to excavate. But where? The 
passage of the eons had doubtless obliterated any outer 
marking that had been made to point out that place. It 
seemed incredible no such mark would have been set. 
They sat a while in silence. A vague stirring of an idea 
had been making itself felt in Larry’s fertile brain, 
but he could not grasp it. It was one of those tantalizing 
subconscious impressions that men work at for days and 
weeks before it crystallizes. Sometimes it never does. 
Larry kept trying to coax it to the level of conscious- 
ness. He found his eyes returning to one certain place 
in the cliff’s face, but why he could not say. 

“Listen here, old dears,” mused Billy Upton at length, 
“it may be there is something — or was something at the 
time those records were interred — about the external 
contour of that line of cliffs that they thought ought to 
give a clue to any searcher. Of course, it may be that 
they clean missed the fact that the north pole at that 
time might be the equator a few hundred thousand years 
later — but — it doesn’t seem likely — not to me, it doesn’t. 
It may be, too, that they set a plain mark of some kind, 
but that doesn’t seem likely either. They valued those 
records next to their very insides, and they’d think that 
if they marked the spot too plainly — made access to it 
too easy — they might be found by someone who wouldn’t 
appreciate the records and might just destroy them. 
They’d figure that if the searchers were the sort they’d 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



551 



want to find them — scientific men, like you and me, 
Larry” — he cast a humorous glance at Harding — “like 
you and me, Larry, why — why they’d be smart enough 

to figure the thing out. But ” 

Larry suddenly put up an arresting hand. “Wait, Billy 
— wait. I’ve been almost having an idea for quite a 
while. I pretty near got it then. Hold hard a second. 
Let me think. I believe you’re right, Billy. Now let us 
three look at that cliff and choose the place where we’d 
start digging in if we wanted to put away the records. 
You both pick out your spot. I’ve picked mine.” 
Harding spoke for the first time. “Right there al- 
most exactly opposite us, where the line of the cliff 
makes a little indent. That’s the spot, I’d say. There’d 
be about ten or fifteen feet shorter dig to get inside. 
And you, Billy, old idiot?” 

“We-el-ell, maybe, and maybe not. I’ve been trying 
to reconstruct this place as it was when this was all 
sea. The water covered those cliffs, covered those 
peaks back of us, covered the whole thing here. There 
was nothing but water in sight. There was a natural 
open cave over there in those cliffs, filled with water. 
As the water went down so the cliffs were uncovered, 
the water would keep washing that cave deeper into 
the cliff, just as w T e often see on our coast lines. That’s 
the way things probably stood when those records were 
cached there. If it hadn’t been open, they wouldn’t 
have known the cavern was there. So they put the 
records away, and came out and looked the place over, 
and one cautious old chap said, ‘Fellers, these here 
records are doggone important things. I think we 
better close up that place there, so somebody or some- 
thing, animals, maybe — can’t get in and raise the very 
dickens with our babies in there.’ Remember there 

was still air here then. So ” 

“How do you know there was air? They might have 
had suits on like these.” He indicated the surface 
suits lying where they had discarded them. 

“Think again, Larry, olhorse. There was air here — 
quite a little sprinkling of it. Take that from an au- 
thority on whatever’s the matter with you. There was 
air, because if there hadn’t been there wouldn’t have 
been water. The directions say there was still water 
in this basin where the peaks are. So, as I was about 
to say, this cautious chap, who reminds me of myself 
in some respects, thought they’d better shut up the 
entrance, which they did, I haven’t a doubt. And how 
would they shut it up ? They wouldn’t need to close 
it up with masonry necessarily. They’d only have to 
put in a charge of whatever dynamite or T. N. T. 
they had handiest and blow it up. They’d probably 
do that right at the entrance into the cliff. So all 
you have to do is to find a place that looks as if an 
explosion might have taken place, and — there you are, 
gentlemen, just walk right in and help yourselves. 
There will have been little, if any change, in the cliff 
from the way they left it, because there have been no 
storms or changes in temperature since.” 

After a silence Billy concluded: “Therefore, I vote 
against you fellows and in favor of myself. That little 
indent you are so fond of, Freddie, my child, is solid 
rock like the rest of the cliff. The place where the 
explosion took place wouldn’t be solid rock. There’d 
probably be a talus reaching well up the cliff.” 

“Billy,” said Harding with a quizzical grin, “you 
aren’t so dumb, are you?” 

“0, no.” 

In a moment the three had put on their outside suits 
again, let themselves out through the airlock, and began 
re-examining the cliffs. A hundred feet eastward far- 
ther along the cliff than they had searched before, 
they found a talus extending nearly to the top of the 
rocky rim. 



“I vote for this,” said Upton. 

“And I,” echoed Harding. 

“Unanimous,” announced Larry. “Let’s go back and 
give the old boys a chance to finish their figures, and 
when they get through, we’ll get our little guns out 
and show them where to shoot.” 

“We have demonstrated mathematically,” Mastono 
told them, “that the direction that was north at the 
time the records were buried would be some distance 
east of what is now north. Just how far east we 
cannot say with certainty by reason of the doubt as 
to the date ; but it would be some distance east.” 

T HE three younger men looked at Mastono admir- 
ingly. “You are right, gentlemen,” grinned 
Harding. “Quite right. We have done some figuring 
ourselves. Amongst us three and you two I think we 
have the place.” 

Cautiously, standing well back, they trained two dis- 
integrating torches on the cliff at the point determined 
on, and the debris of the talus melted as if it had been 
butter and disappeared. Soon they had uncovered what 
gave every appearance of having once been an under- 
ground entrance. Fifty or sixty feet in, the torches 
swept away the last barrier, and the cavern yawned 
before their eyes. Mastono would have rushed head- 
long in at once, but Harding restrained him. 

“Wait, my friend. Remember the beasts. The 
cavern may well be full of them. I suggest we all go 
back near the ship and wait. These beasts probably 
don’t need much air, and they might come rushing out. 
Eventually the cold would get them, of course, but 
that might be after they’d got us.” 

Harding broke off with a sharp hissing intake of 
breath as confused sounds came issuing out of the 
cavern. “Back! Quick! Run for the ship!” 

Without stopping to look back so much as once, they 
made a mad rush for the ship, never slacking until they 
were safely shut inside. 

They had been not an instant too soon in quitting 
the mouth of the cavern, for the hell’s brood that came 
boiling, squirming, and seething, snarling, hissing and 
croaking, out of the ancient place, was none such as 
a man would care to be in company with. As they 
debouched upon the ancient shore, they spread forward 
fanlike to a distance of several hundred feet, their 
forward motion slowing perceptibly, and their fright- 
ful bedlam diminishing, as they came on into the with- 
ering cold of the airless surface. Then their forward 
movement ceased altogether, their horrible din quieted, 
and they became an abominable mass of swirling, 
squirming, billowing obscenity, their demoniac voices 
protesting more and more weakly, until it was no more 
than a ghastly moaning hiss. For a while there was 
an occasional flip of a slimy tentacle, the painful rais- 
ing and questing from hide to side of a serpent’s head, 
or the rolling of some elephantine torso, as their bodies 
shriveled visibly. 

At last there was no more movement or sound, and 
after gazing a while in frozen horror, the passengers 
of the Altarasanna prepared to proceed with the ven- 
ture. They had a grisly task before them. No human 
being could have steeled his soul to so much as step 
into the outer fringe of the hideous collection, harm- 
less as they had quite evidently now become; and to 
go past the scattering fringe up into the thickening 
mass which entirely choked the entrance, was a thing 
unthinkable. The mess must be cleared up before any- 
thing further could be done, and they prepared to go 
at it with their two disintegrating torches. 

It was Professor Merriam who halted them. “Wait,” 
he fairly screamed. “I beg of you to wait a moment! 
We must take pictures. They may be of inestimable 



552 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



benefit in dealing with these things. And think of the 
interest of science. Wait, I beseech you, until I can 
get a camera.” He was already on the way to the 
ship as he spoke, and in a few moments had returned 
with a camera, and had begun snapping picture after 
picture, the objects which appeared the most interest- 
ing. At last he was satisfied after he had taken half 
a hundred views, and permitted them to proceed. Mas- 
tono said that the pictures should be transferred to 
the permanent records and made a part of the future 
history regarding the beasts — if, indeed, there were 
any survivors on Arelli to make any more history. 

As the disintegrators were turned upon them, the 
creatures disappeared into nothingness, only a slight 
cloud of vapor rising from where they had been, forced 
upward by the pressure of the torches. Slowly they 
cleared a wide pathway through, more and more slowly 
as they approached the entrance. It required some 
time to clear out the entrance, and when it had been 
done, and they began to penetrate into the cavern 
itself, the work was still a herculean one. It seemed 
as if the ancient cavern must have been filled full with 
the things. But at last they were through to the free 
space of the rock floor, and put their torches aside. 
Even then Harding counseled extreme caution in pro- 
ceeding forward. 

“Keep together in a bunch,” he warned them, “and 
don’t rush ahead. Let’s stand here and look around 
first. There is no telling what may still be inside here. 
There may be a passage leading down below, and no- 
body knows what might be coming up yet.” 

“Yes, yes. You are right, Freddie, my boy. Yes. 
In fact I had been thinking of that myself. The cavern 
must have been warmed to some extent from some 
source, otherwise the creatures could not have existed 
in here any more than they could outside. Yes. They 
would have frozen solid half a million years ago. I 
suggest we endeavor first to find out about this pas- 
sage by which they came up from their dens proper, 
which must lie far below here.” 

“I suggest, however,” put in Billy Upton thoughtfully, 
“that if they mean to come up and see us they’d better 
be humping it, or they’ll be too late. However it may 
have been before we opened it up, I fancy this hole 
in the ground is now as cold as it is outside, which 
wasn’t good for their health. So I hardly think there 
is anything more to fear from them. Whatever pas- 
sageway they may have had to their home town is 
apt to be about 5,000 below zero by this time.” 

This seemed likely, and they ventured forward, tak- 
ing the precaution, however, to lug their disintegrating 
torches along in case of unexpected stray visitors who 
might be more hardy than their brethren. 

The cavern was a large one. All that the direc- 
tions had said was that the records were “buried under 
a great crystal pillar.” The pillar might be in any part 
ef the cavern. Therefore, after looking about a little 
more, nothing appearing to threaten them, it was de- 
cided to separate into two companies. Mastono and 
Harding went one way, holding the light and Harding 
carrying oneof the disintegrating torches; and Merriam, 
Larry, and Billy Upton went the other way, Upton and 
Merriam carrying lights and Larry carrying the other 
torch. Thus they made the complete circuit of the 
cavern’s edge, examining it as far as their lights ex- 
tended toward the center, and met on the other side, 
without finding any trace of the crystal pillar. Mas- 
tono’s face was a picture of disappointment, and his 
eagerness had slowed to a certain nervous tension. 
Probably no one else in the company realized what it 
meant to him to find the records — unless it might be 
Merriam. 

“We’ll turn around, now,” said Merriam, “and go 



back through the center. It may be that the crystal 
pillar is in the center.” 

AND so it was — almost at the exact center. The 
IX. crystal pillar consisted of one enormous crystal 
fully six feet long, fixed on end in the rock floor. Un- 
doubtedly the records had been found. Remained the 
task of unearthing them from their eon-long burial. 
This was a matter for care. If the disintegrating 
torches were turned straight down through the floor 
of the cavern, the records might be injured or de- 
stroyed. There was no telling in what manner they 
had been buried, nor what space their crypt might oc- 
cupy; neither had they any way of estimating how 
deeply they lay beneath the floor. But the torches 
were the only means they possessed of excavating into 
the rock. Any other way might require many erros and 
ennas. They therefore selected a spot about ten feet 
each way from the pillar*, and began two experimental 
holes. When these were down what they deemed a suf- 
ficient depth, without encountering anything, they 
began to work toward the center from them. They had 
not gone far when they encountered a solid metal wall 
on each side of the pillar. Again they paused to consult 
about the proper method of gaining entrance to the 
metal vault. Harding was for boring a hole through 
at a venture; but the old centenarian was childishly 
fearful that such a course might injure even the 
smallest atom of the precious contents of the vault. 

At any rate, it was necessary to recharge the torches, 
which had grown noticeably weak, and advisable to look 
over their surface suits and refill their charges, and it 
was apparent there were other matters to be consid- 
ered. Again it was the comical but really thoughtful 
Billy Upton, who had been thinking deeply. 

“Since there was air on the surface when these 
records were buried,” he remarked, with a malicious 
look in the direction of Larry, “there would possibly, 
even probably, have been air in the record vault — 
although I realize it may have been removed at the 
time or escaped since. If there was air in it, there 
may still be, and if so, the inner pressure might cause 
an explosion if we were to remove the rock from around 
the vault, particularly if the air inside became heated 
to any extent from the use of our torches. We might 
all be blown clear to — to Marelli, not to mention the 
records being ruined.” 

“That is true,” allowed Harding. “What do you 
propose, Billy?” 

“Why, I suggest punching a hole through the metal 
wall of the vault first. We could do that by placing 
a pointed bolt against the wall and a light charge of 
explosive to drive it through, with a fuse to give us 
time to get out of the cavern, just in case anything 
should happen.” He glanced at Mastono. “Just a 
light charge, you understand, friend Mastono, which 
wouldn’t hurt a fly inside, but would make a hole to 
let out any pressure that may be inside.” 

This seemed the best method available, and the exe- 
cution of it brought no disastrous consequences, and 
they removed enough of the rock about the vault to 
permit enlarging the hole so a man could crawl through. 

With instinctive delicacy they all drew back and 
glanced at Mastono. It was his world and his records, 
and his undoubted right of first entry. Merriam would 
be the next, since all worlds and all things are the step- 
children of the scientist. 

The old Arellian eagerly, and with quite a little 
solemnity, thrust his head through the opening, then 
withdrew it quickly to put his light in first and his 
head second. Again there was the thought of caution. 
Who could say what might be inside a vault sealed 
for hundreds of thousands of years?” 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



553 



“Better look it over well before you go in,” warned 
Harding. “There might be snakes, or — almost any- 
thing, in there.” 

But after no more than a glance round the vault, 
Mastono crawled in, beckoning Merriam after him. The 
place was no more than ten or twelve feet square and 
as high. There were a few stone shelves around the 
walls, with a few small cabinets like the one contain- 
ing the directions. That was all. At a glance it seemed 
a short and inadequate climax to their long and com- 
plicated hopes and preparations. The vast age of the 
place seemed in decency to demand a more pretentious 
realization. But there they were — the hundred or so 
rusty looking cabinets, quite unimposing for all their 
age and their expected miracles of content. 

Well, the thing was accomplished, and there was noth- 
ing to do now but remove them. Nothing was to be 
gained by merely looking at their exterior. So Hard- 
ing began to hand them out to Larry, who in turn 
passed them up to Upton to load on the small vehicle 
for transfer to the Altarasanna. They were not very 
heavy, save with age and dignity, weighing not more 
than probably twenty or thirty pounds apiece — as 
pounds would be figured on Marelli. Two loads took 
them. 

With no more than brief backward glances, when 
all had been done, the ship was put in flight for 
Copernicus, where without incident it landed three 
lovers into the waiting arms of three anxious women, 
and two others into a fever of preparation for the 
translation of the precious voices of the distant past. 

It also landed them into the very midst of a situa- 
tion that every erro was becoming more dark and crit- 
ical for the future of Arelli. The King had not been 
present to greet them on their return, interested as 
he undoubtedly was, and sure as he would otherwise 
have been to do so. Altara explained that he was occu- 
pied in conferences with a number of ambassadors from 
the various more important states, or craters, of Arelli. 
Insistent as any local governor might have been to run 
his own part of the state in his own way during normal 
times, all alike in troublous times demanded of their 
overlord the King instant and omniscient advice and 
assistance. They demanded what they themselves 
lacked, adequate wisdom to subdue and banish their 
menace; success where they had failed. They were in- 
clined to thrust all responsibility upon the King’s 
shoulders, with all blame for past and present failures, 
reserving unto themselves only whatever credit might 
be assumed to accrue that things were not worse. 

The people of a large number of the small and back- 
ward outlying crater communities had been strangled 
out of existence. In some cases a few had made good 
their escape to more fortunate places; in some cases 
none. Many inhabitants of the larger craters were 
gradually being driven into a corner by the beasts. All 
were suffering more or less. Straggling groups of ref- 
ugees had soon begun to center upon Kepler and Co- 
pernicus, where conditions were the best. These had 
represented the well-known type who always flee at 
even the distant whisperings of danger. These rivu- 
lets had been steadily broadening and deepening into 
a great human river, that threatened to overflow the 
capital. 

There every man and woman who could by any means 
be spared from the work of food production was pressed 
into the building and equipping of the surface habita- 
tions. Of these dwellings thousands had been added 
to thousands, until the whole available space on the 
crater’s floor was filled, from the edges of the central 
Altara Lake and the horticultural area to the very 
vertical line of the precipitous surrounding cliffs. The 
agricultural area must not be encroached on. There 



was no telling when food would be at a premium. Fully 
half of the sublunar levels of Copernicus had been 
vacated, and in such of these as were still safe the 
refugees were installed as fast as they arrived, and set 
to work at once producing their own food by the most 
intensive processes known. As the number of the ref- 
ugees increased, there were not houses for them, above 
or below ground. They lived in the open places of the 
caverns and slept on the ground. This was no great 
hardship, however, as the temperature was warm and 
uniform. 

K EPLER, ruled by the King’s able brother, was the 
blue ribbon community of Arelli. It had been 
made absolutely clean of the terrors from top to bottom, 
and was apparently being kept so. Its normal popula- 
tion had been about 250,000 — much smaller than that 
of the capital. Its surface dwellings had also filled the 
surface of the crater, and were themselves filled. Its 
vacated underground spaces were also crowded with 
refugees, until it was housing three times its usual 
250,000. The nearly 400,000 normal population of the 
capital had become close to a million. 

The mysterious Hyginus Valley, near Copernicus on 
the west, 95 miles long and only a mile and a half 
wide, and of unknown origin, was in excellent strategic 
shape for defense, was under capable governorship, and 
holding its own against the terrors. It, too, was 
crowded above and below the ground. 

Riccioli, far to the east and near the vast Grimaldi, 
had become, through some circumstances that no one 
understood, the focus of such a savage attack, that it 
had had to be abandoned. Its surviving population had 
crowded into Grimaldi, along with that of other small 
abandoned craters still further eastward. 

Everywhere the people of the smaller craters cen- 
tered into the nearest large ones, until gradually there 
came to be a few great centers of population instead 
of many small ones. 

At the old capital, Ylisae, the evil politician Uf- 
fuldo, father of the infamous son Ullo, who had made 
a nearly successful attempt to carry off Princess Al- 
tara, had been thoroughly set down and the place put 
under the rule of a committee of governors, on account 
of its central location. It was barely holding the beast 
hordes in check and was threatened with lack of food 
for its great and growing population. 

Great Tycho, at the south pole, had followed the 
example of the old capital, and though crowded to over- 
flowing, was doing fairly well. Bailly and Clavius, on 
account of their great size, had to be left to the beasts, 
and the people had to flee to Blancanus and Tycho; 
the former, having recovered from its earlier distress, 
had gradually pressed back the enemy. 

Looking over the situation generally, it was hard for 
the King and his faithful Captain Tullos to say 
whether Arelli as a whole was gaining or losing its 
fight. Certain it was that though some of the larger 
craters were able to hold their now teeming popula- 
tions fairly safe for the moment, hundreds of others 
had been completely overrun and abandoned. It seemed 
as if the beasts, like able generals, were cleaning up 
the fringes so that their flanks would not be harassed 
in the gigantic warfare to come against the coveted 
larger centers. What the result of that final warfare 
w T ould be they could not yet determine. The thing that 
had finally become a fact was that Ylisae, Tycho and 
Blancanus in the south polar region, Grimaldi in the 
east, with Kepler, Copernicus, and the Hyginus Valley, 
supplemented in some measure by Ptolemy, Herschel 
and a few others, now held practically the whole sur- 
viving population of Arelli, which before had been dis- 
tributed in a more or less scattering manner over sev- 



554 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



eral hundreds of craters. Certain it was, also, that 
that population could not possibly be more than seventy- 
five per cent of what it had been just before the out- 
break, and possibly not more than fifty per cent. 

This was the situation at the time of the return of 
the Altarasanna from the salvaging of the ancient 
records. And then came a comparative lull in the 
struggle. In several places it was reported that the 
aggressions of the terrors had somewhat abated. But 
whether Arelli was really beating them as a whole, or 
whether it should be taken as a sort of grim warning 
of worse days to come — that was what no one could tell. 

In such situation the provinces that were holding out 
had sent their ablest men to Copernicus for advice and 
counsel with each other and with the King. These 
were the conferences that the passengers of the Altara- 
sanna had found in session on their return. As soon 
as the King knew of their return he sent to ask the 
four Tellurians and Mastono to come to the council 
chamber in the old royal quarters. Dannie Marston 
and Gaston Perot had gone somewhere below where 
Captain Tullos had been sent for on account of some 
critical phase of the unremitting struggle to clear the 
lower levels of the terrors. Mastono begged, on the 
ground of fatigue, that he and Merriam be excused 
from attending the council for a while, promising to 
come later ; and he and Merriam went off together. 

No time was taken to present the Tellurians to the 
individual ambassadors, of whom there were half a 
hundred assembled. The King merely called the visitors 
to him, shook their hands, and told the gathering who 
they were. 

“Gentlemen,” he said, putting a hand on Harding’s 
shoulder, “this is my son, Prince Frederick Xerxes 
Harding, of Marelli, the chosen husband of Altara, Prin- 
cess of Arelli. Prince Frederick is chiefly responsible 
for the renewal of communication between our planet 
and Marelli.” He next put an arm around Larry’s 
shoulders and smiled down at him fondly. “This is my 
very good friend, Larry, of Marelli, whose heart is as 
golden as that of Sanna of Arelli, with whom he is 
mated.” Then he turned to Billy Upton and stood look- 
ing down at him with a quizzical smile. “This is Billy 
Upton, of Marelli, gentlemen, whose mind is as keen 
as his face is genial.” His face suddenly turned grave 
again. “Let us go on with our work, gentlemen. We 
are fortunate to have these friends of Marelli with us. 
They have already been of great help. I am sure you 
will be glad to hear from them when they have recov- 
ered from the weariness of their journey into the Lai 
Estoti, where they have been with Mastono and the 
able Professor Merriam, also of Marelli. This journey, 
Prince Harding informs me, has resulted in the find- 
ing and bringing back to the capital the ancient records 
of our people, buried there for perhaps many iltellos, 
Mastono and Merriam are even now working at the 
translation of them and I suppose will not stop until 
it is done.” He turned to Harding. “Freddie, my 
son, do you wish to say something now?” 

Harding arose. “Gentlemen of Arelli, let me assure 
you of the cordial friendship of Marelli, and our sym- 
pathy in your troubles. All that we can, we will 
do to help you. I shall be glad to meet you all per- 
sonally when there is time. You have work to do now, 
I know.” 

B ILLY UPTON and Larry looked at each other. 

“After you, old toppie,” smiled the former with a 
slight wave of the hand, and Larry arose with hesita- 
tion and spoke without greeting. “I am glad to say, 
statesmen of Arelli, that on our journey just ended we 
met a few hundred of the beasts when we entered the 
cavern to bring out the old records. They are dead, 



and we are alive, as you see, though it was not we who 
killed them. But we have learned something from the 
adventure, and I assure you they are not to subdue your 
beloved Arelli, but Arelli is to subdue them. I will not 
take your time now, as I see from Billy Upton’s face 
that he is going to make a very long speech.” 

It is not known, but only surmised, why King Altona 
of Arelli smiled a peculiar smile, by no means free 
from pleasure, when the genial and sometimes flippant 
Billy Upton arose to speak to the grave and dignified 
ambassadors. 

“It is but fair to my friends Prince Harding and 
Prince Larry to inform you,” he began, “that they are 
both princes in their own home towns, or — anywhere 
you may chance to meet them, erro or enna, Copernicus 
or San Francisco. Some day you will go to Marelli 
and see, for look you, men of Arelli, the day is right 
at hand when you will eat your — er — mush and grape- 
fruit on Arelli and your soup to nuts on Marelli. 
Great ships will flash you there in the space of an erro 
or an enna — your ships, they will be, and ours. The 
two worlds are already become one, for the two citi- 
zens who will arrive at Copernicus soon, will never be 
able to say whether they are the more of Arelli or 
Marelli. These will be the first heralds of a great 
interplanetarian citizenship to come, and in their 
names I pledge you everything Marelli has if you shall 
require it.” 

“Ah! My friend of Marelli!” cried an old ambas- 
sador, springing up and coming forward as Billy Upton 
paused, “those are good words. May I shake your 
hand after your custom of Marelli?” Upton gave the 
ambassador a firm and cordial clasp, and then gave the 
same to the King, who had arisen with tears in his eyes. 

“Go on! Go on, Billy Upton!” cried another. 

“Yes, Yes, we would hear more,” said another. 

Others were on their feet waving their arms. 

“Thank you,” went on Upton easily, “they are good 
words, and would be whoever might chance to say them, 
because they are good ivords. Now, about these beasts: 
I would not worry too much about them if I were you. 
They have taken many of our cities, and in doing so 
they have sealed their own doom.” He paused a 
moment. 

“We do not understand,” said one. 

“Just this: when these people fled from their homes, 
I don’t suppose they stopped to shut their doors, do 
you?” The ambassadors looked at each other, puzzled. 
“No, I don’t think they did. And about the first thing 
the beasts probably did after the people left was to 
go outdoors and take a breath of fresh air. Well, by 
that time the power ceilings were gone, I expect, through 
the stopping of the machinery, and — what do you think 
the brutes got then ?” 

There was a silence. Then “Ah!” breathed the old 
ambassador who had taken Upton’s hand. “Ah! That 
is so!” 

“My God!” (or the Arellian equivalent) said two 
others. “That is true, friends!” 

The King was heard to draw his breath sharply as 
Upton continued. “Tomorrow a child could walk 
through every one of those abandoned craters and not 
a hair of his head be harmed — Riccioli, Bailly, Clavius, 
Evas, Esoh, and a hundred of the other outlying craters, 
are safe today. All you have to do is to send some — 
er — scavengers, to clean up the mess, and their people 
can return without fear. The people saved their 
homes in abandoning them, and unless I am more mis- 
taken than I think I am, it won’t be ten erros until 
their attacks will subside in all the other places, and 
there will never be such a thing as a beast seen or 
heard of on Arelli again.” 

The quick-thinking ambassadors had followed Upton 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



555 



to the end, in spite of the fact that he had interlarded 
his remarks with an occasional English word when he 
did not know the Arellian synonym, and when he sat 
down there was an uproar as the ambassadors, casting 
dignity to the winds, clamored forward to greet this 
man who had so genially and yet so profoundly cap- 
tured the situation. 

The King fairly took Billy Upton into his arms, and 
Larry cried, “Bravo, Billy! Bravo! You’re sure the 
something’s something, or whatever the hell it is. Good 
old Billy!” 

Harding proudly slapped his back. “Why, Billy, you 
damned old idiot ! I never even thought of it ! Certainly 
they’re dead. Why, you — you damned old — old idiot!” 

“Shut up, Freddie, olcheese, and let me outa here. I 
want to — to ask Mercedes something.” 

“Same here, kid,” seconded Larry; and to the King, 
“Excuse us, will you, sir?” 

The two dashed out, followed close, albeit more dig- 
nifiedly, by Prince Harding, who desired to say some- 
thing to the Princess. The gathering quieted, and as 
soon as he could be heard, the same old ambassador 
who had greeted Upton was on his feet. 

“Your Majesty, I have the honor to suggest that some 
fitting mark of our esteem be conferred on these most 
excellent men of Marelli, who have assisted us so 
greatly, and upon their mates. We have no way of 
honoring our beloved Princess Altara more highly than 
she is already honored, but I ask Your Majesty to 
bestow on these others the honorary titles of Princess 
and Princesses of Arelli, and to have appropriate entry 
made in the royal records.” 

The King nodded and smiled. “If there is no objec- 
tion I will be glad to do so; and the honor will be 
extended, upon their arrival to the two expected joint 
citizens of Arelli and Marelli.” 

Amid hearty cheers for the expected interplanetarian 
citizens, there being no further business, the council 
decided to call it an erro. 

On the morrow there was more business for the good 
ships Altarasanna and Terraluna. No less than flying 
to the abandoned craters with a passengering mingled 
of both worlds. They found it true as Billy Upton 
had so shrewdly guessed. In the panic, the airlocks 
had not been closed. The beasts had “gone outdoors 
to take a breath of fresh air.” The neglected machin- 
ery had caused the protective power ceilings (where 
there had been any) to fall, and the beasts had met 
the same fate as at their exit from the cavern of the 
ancient records. There could be no doubt that the dis- 
aster to the beasts had extended to the lowest levels, 
for even where local tunnels were provided with means 
of sealing the levels apart, no one had stayed their 
panic-stricken flight to close them. Indeed, the very 
thing that had proved the salvation of Arelli might, 
except for the precautions in sealing of all tunnels from 
abandoned craters, have proven the death of all; for 
subsequent investigation proved that the through tun- 
nels had lost their atmosphere right up to the points of 
sealing, and but for the seals there might have been no 
air left in all sub-Arelli. Beyond all doubt the failure 
to close the doors behind the fugitives had saved Arelli. 
It remained only to see if the extinction of the beasts 
had extended to their ancient underground dens. No 
exploration would be necessary. Events would prove 
shortly, as Upton had suggested, whether this was true. 
If the aggression of the terrors in the sealed lower 
levels of the inhabited craters ceased, it would mean 
that their underground dens were destroyed in toto. 
In this case they would need only to recharge any places 
from which the air had escaped, clear them of dead 
beasts, and Arelli might go ahead and rehabilitate her- 
self free from all fear for the future iltellos. 



U PON the return of the ships and confirmation of 
the good news, cars were at once equipped with 
airtight protection, manned with workers likewise pro- 
tected, and sent out through the tunnels with disinte- 
grating torches to remove all signs of the ghastly 
visitants from the hells of Arelli. Open tunnels were 
sealed and recharged with air, and the fugitives were 
soon on their way back to their homes. 

It remained to see, however, whether the outrush of 
the air from the underground quarters of the beasts 
beneath the particular craters where they had been 
found dead would extend to all of their underground 
dens. If, as the general theory was, these dens were 
all interconnected throughout the interior of Arelli, 
then the air would rush out of them all, and the terrible 
cold rush in, and the beasts would be destroyed through- 
out all underground Arelli. If they were not so con- 
nected, then there might still remain battle to do be- 
neath the places where the beasts had escaped destruc- 
tion. It would require some time to determine this 
matter on account of various considerations. While 
thus awaiting the outcome, all precautions would have 
to be maintained. 

Otherwise the activities of Arelli centering at the 
crater of Copernicus went on as usual, and it was in- 
evitable that the interests of old Mastono and Professor 
Merriam should center largely in the translation of the 
ancient records. This they set about at once. In fact, 
as the King had strongly intimated he suspected, they 
had been already at work on them, when they had 
begged off from the meeting of the pan-Arellian council. 

Mastono having already had experience in the matter 
of working out the translation of the contents of the 
old record cabinet of directions, they were fortunately 
in position to get into the midst of the matter without 
preliminaries. There was no difficulty in determining 
the order in which the records ran, since not only had 
they been stored in order in the ancient tavern, but 
they bore plain marks on the outside of the cabinets 
showing their order. This order was indicated by the 
years covered by each cabinet of records. The only 
trouble with this was that it was not known, nor did 
they have any way of determining, unless the records 
themselves should give them a clue, from what the 
chronology dated. This they hoped to establish in some 
way from the contents, which it turned out they were 
able to do within reasonable limits of error. A few 
thousand years in such vast periods of time did not 
matter much. 

They first determined that the logical method would 
be to begin with the cabinet showing, the latest dating, 
or that nearest their own era. This they did. The first 
cabinet was tenderly set up, the necessary attachments 
and connections made, and the two scientists having 
placed themselves expectantly in the most favorable po- 
sitions for seeing and hearing, Mastono tripped the 
little switch that would set the mechanism in motion 
to reel off the slender tapes on which the records had 
been impressed hundreds of thousands of years before. 

It will be understood that these records were exceed- 
ingly compact. A very small cabinet would hold miles 
of fine tape, and a mile of it might cover tens of thou- 
sands of years, as each slender length would contain a 
volume. There were found to be ninety-three of these 
cabinets, so it seemed only reasonable that the two 
scientists would have enough under any ordinary cir- 
cumstances to occupy them for the next hundred years. 
But the circumstances were by no means ordinary. The 
two who had placed themselves at the herculanean task 
knew how to handle it, as will be seen. 

Mastono, then, tripped the little switch; the mech- 
anism started as if it had been doing the like every day; 
and without much preliminary scratching or complain- 



556 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




ing, a voice from the inconceivably remote past was 
speaking to them as plainly as if it were of the current 
day. The language was, of course, totally unfamiliar 
to Merriam, and not precisely familiar to Mastono, 
since language changes widely under the exigencies of 
a hundred thousand years. It was the realization of 
this that had caused the makers of Arellian records to 
supplement the text by continuous and copious illustra- 
tions, for pictures speak all languages alike. 

It will be supposed that each of the men was inter- 
ested the more intensely in the portion that dealt with 
his own planet. It would have been strange if such had 
not been the case. Every man who has a country loves 
it the best; and it seems likely that every man who 



has a planet, as most have, would always love it best, 
too, even though it consist of many nations. We sup- 
pose that a terrestrial American, or Englishman, or 
Chinese, would appeal to the heart of a terrestrial more 



The scenes that flashed 
before them, made the 
scientists draw back with 
a gasp. 




THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



557 



intimately than a Jovian, or Martian, or Arellian Amer- 
ican, or Englishman, or Chinese, even though we have 
found Martians and Jovians and Arellians who wrap 
themselves about the human heart strings as intimately 
as another. 

It would fall largely to the lot of Mastono, the cen- 
tenarian, to interpret the textual and pictorial refer- 
ences to Arelli, while Merriam might be supposed to 
comprehend more readily those touching Marelli. 

The opening sentences from the voice of the eons 
long gone was only partly intelligible even to Mastono ; 
but its message was at once made plain when pictures 
began to flash in rapid succession upon the screen that 
had constituted a part of the preparation of the scien- 
tists. Clearly they were pictures taken on the surface 
of Arelli. When it was desired to scrutinize any par- 
ticular scene, the pressure of a button stopped the pas- 
sage of the tape, and held the scene stationary on the 
screen as long as they desired. 

The date of the first picture was given as the year 
842 of the 123rd miltesso from “the great transforma- 
tion” — an unknown dating entirely, since they had no 
idea what the great transformation might mean. Mas- 
tono correctly surmised that the world “miltesso” was 
the ancient form of “Iltello,” indicating a thousand 
years. So that the year would have been the 122,842nd 
year from the great transformation — whatever that 
might be. The first scene they at once recognized as 
the precise spot in the Lai Estoti where the records 
had been found. There still remained some water in 
the deep depression containing the mountain cone from 
which they had reckoned the location of the entrance 
to the ancient cavern. They were getting a start; and 
although still unable to connect up their chronology 
with any familiar calendar, they hoped by comparative 
study and calculation to do so before they were through. 

Their plan was to skip swiftly this first time through 
the cabinets, to pick up the high lights, and go back 
later to those things they might wish to examine with 
care. To the following scenes of the first series they 
gave, therefore, only cursory attention. They depicted 
the last phases of the surface life on Arelli. There 
were forests and other vegetation, most of which gave 
evidence of gradual failing under the distress of un- 
favorable conditions, doubtless rapidly becoming worse. 
The ancient seas were bereft of their waters except in 
some of the deepest places. The people bore much 
the same appearance as themselves; clad differently, 
it is true, but much the same people, and still living 
in their surface cities, and in such agricultural areas 
as still remained cultivatable. 

T HEY passed quickly over the vocal comments, 
which Mastono could tell gave general announce- 
ment of the necessity of retirement from the general 
surface to the craters, and thence to underground 
dwellings, which were even then in preparation. In 
fact, some of the smaller urban centers of the surface 
had already been abandoned. 

The record then passed on to detail in words and 
pictures the family and political life of Arelli, or 
Arrall, as it was then called, with brief accounts of 
the educational and scientific advancement of the period. 
The population of all Arrall was given as about half 
a billion souls. They were separated at that time into 
several independent nations, among which thei’e seemed 
to have been the inevitable struggles for this, that, 
and the other. There was no mention of air travel, 
so far as they could understand the commentaries, and 
certainly nothing like airships appeared in any of the 
illustrations. They concluded that air travel had either 
been discontinued on account of the thinning of the 
atmosphere, or, what seemed more probable, the knowl- 



edge of it had been lost from some cause not apparent. 

The second cabinet bore the same dating as the first, 
the year 122,842 from “the great transformation,” and 
to “Merriam’s inexpressible delight dealt with Marelli, 
then known as Massall. The very first scene put Mer- 
riam into a quiver of eager expectation. He recognized 
it as Europe of the Second Interglacial Epoch. Mastono 
pressed the button and let it stand steady on the screen. 

“That is undoubtedly the country we now 
call ‘Europe’,” the little bald-headed scientist cooed. 
“And the time fits in well with the Arellian history 
we had in the first cabinet. The Second Interglacial 
Epoch on Marelli may be placed somewhere between 
250,000 and 375,000 years ago. So you can put the 
retirement of your people from the surface, within 
rather broad limits of error, of course, at about that 
long ago, since the two cabinets bear the same dating. 
The people who made these records showed intelligence. 
They realized that there would be likely to be a great 
deal of trouble placing the events, and in order to 
assist they have placed under the same dating contem- 
poraneous records of Arelli and Marelli, with the idea, 
no doubt, that one might help the other out. 

“The rather primitive-looking people shown here are 
of what we have arbitrarily called the Heidelberg race. 
The name Heidelberg means nothing, friend Mastono, 
except that the first evidence of this race was a single 
jawbone, unearthed near a place called Heidelberg, in 
the country we call Germany. That’s all there is to 
that. As a matter of fact there was some question 
whether the race was really a human race as we un- 
derstand the word. That is borne out by the people 
appearing in this scene on the screen before us. They 
certainly have a look of considerable intelligence, but 
as you see the jaw is almost chinless — low forehead, 
retreating. Very likely their speech was primitive, if 
they had any at all. And yet the teeth shown by this 
jawbone I speak of were distinctly human teeth.” 

“In order to show so large an area,” suggested 
Mastono, “this scene must have been taken in many 
parts and a composite made of them, then rephoto- 
graphed for this record.” 

“Yes, yes,” agreed Merriam, “I suppose so. Yes. 
I was wondering about that. But the composite agrees 
well with our own conceptions of the topography of 
Europe 250,000 or 300,000 years ago. What we call 
the Mediterranean Sea” — Merriam indicated the lo- 
cality — “did not exist. There were only some large 
lakes, as you see here. In other words, during the 
glacial epoch so much of the waters were frozen that 
the seas were low everywhere. Then, when the glacial 
times passed, and the ice melted, it infringed on the 
land and narrowed the continents. Yes, yes. There 
were only some large lakes, as you see here, where 
the Mediterranean Sea no?/ lies. Europe extended 
further to the westward. There were great inland 
waters where are now what we call the Black Sea 
and the Caspian Sea. This country at the north here 
is now separated from Europe and cut up into what we 
call the British Isles. Let’s see what the next one 
has to say, friend Mastono.” 

Mastono pushed the button and let another scene 
show. Merriam examined it closely, puzzled at first. 

“Why, that’s — good heavens! That must be Asia, 
though different from our Asia of today. Yes, yes. And 
an obviously advanced and enlightened civilization 
there 300,000 years ago! Yes. Well, well! Buildings 
and cities and great ships on the seas. This will be 
a surprise to some of my brethren on Marelli. My 
stars, yes. No doubt it was some of these people who 
subsequently migrated into Europe later. Well, let’s 
shoot along. We can come back to these.” 

“Where does this Heidelberg race stand with you, 



558 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



friend Merriam? Where do you place it as related 
to your other early races?” 

“Well, all the knowledge we have, practically, of the 
prehistoric peoples is limited to Europe. For example, 
this advanced civilization we just saw in Asia is en- 
tirely new to me. In Europe we have, beginning with 
the most recent and going back — we have the Cro- 
Magnon race, an intelligent race, with as full mental 
potentialities as we ourselves, but without much appli- 
cation of it as yet; living out of doors in the shelter 
of natural caves. Place that, very roughly, at 25,000 
to 40,000 years ago. Then the next we know anything 
much about is the Neanderthal race, also in Europe, 
you understand. Call that 50,000 to 75,000 years ago. 
Then comes the pre-Neanderthaloid and Piltdown folk, 
at about. — well, say 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. And 
the next step takes us to the Heidelberg race, which 
we had on the screen here— 250,000 to 375,000 years 
ago. All those figures may be wide of the mark, you 
know; but I’d say it would be fairly safe to place 
the Heidelberg somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 
years ago. And when taken in comparison with your 
Arellian chronology, I’d rather say between 250,000 
and 400,000.” 

“You can probably place your races since the Heidel- 
berg from our later records, then.” 

“Yes, yes. I hope so. Yes. I certainly do hope so. 
Well, then the next step back is the farthest we on 
Marelli have been able to get yet. That is what is called 
the Peiping or Peking man, or the Sinanthropus Pekin- 
ensis, in what we call China, a very large, densely 
populated, and under-advanced country in Asia. Esti- 
mates, such as they are, place the Peiping Man as far 
back as a million years. How nearly accurate the esti- 
mate is I’m sure I can’t say. You understand I’m 
primarily an astronomer. Probably it’s as old as a 
million years — perhaps much older. The race3 I’ve 
mentioned furnish a fairly representative list of all 
we know about the prehistoric races of Marelli. Mind 
you, that’s all in Europe, except the Peiping race. 
What was in other parts of Marelli concurrently we 
know very little about as yet. We know there were pre- 
historic peoples in other parts, but we haven’t them 
very well traced yet. We’ll have to wait until more 
excavations are made.” 

“Unless we can learn more about them from these 
records,” suggested the centenarian. 

“Yes, yes, to be sure. Of course. Well, let’s see 
what we have next here, then.” 

T HEKE were then several records dealing with con- 
ditions on Arelli. They ran back 500,000 years, as 
nearly as they could tell, which wasn’t very near, 
showing the surface entirely peopled, the seas filled 
with water, and the hundreds of thousands of craters 
which form so prominent a feature of Arelli’s surface 
entirely missing. The people lived in cities of great 
size and grandeur, and the civilization was obviously 
extremely high. There were swarms of ships on the 
waters, vast transits on the land, multitudes of air- 
ships, and some sort of contrivance which men at- 
tached to themselves, floated up into the air, and darted 
swiftly about. Evidently this was much more than a 
mere gravitor. Most surprising of all, however, at the 
very end of the record, was a map which left no 
possible doubt of representing travel routes between 
Arelli and earth. By going over the record again more 
carefully they found the interplanetarian ships them- 
selves resting on the surface. 

As the hour was nearing when they must discontinue 
their work for the time being, they skipped over the 
remaining cabinets to glance hastily at the last two. 
These bore no dating. They supposed one might deal 



with Arelli and the other with earth; and in this they 
were not disappointed. 

They ran the Arelli record first, and found it to con- 
sist of nothing but pictures — no comments. The scenes 
that flashed before them made the two scientists draw 
back with a gasp and look at each other in speechless 
bewilderment. The pictures spoke more plainly than 
words could possibly have done. 

The first scene was a drawing, showing a large heav- 
enly body, evidently a sun — the sun, they soon saw. 
Three planets were shown with their orbits about the 
sun indicated. Around the outer one — Marelli, they 
guessed — was traced an orbit, containing a satellite at 
one point, and near the satellite was an excellent out- 
line of a human hand, with the index finger pointing 
to the satellite. 

“Plainly our own sun, with Mercury, Venus, and 
Marelli, and circling the latter, Arelli.” 

“And according to the finger, this record is to deal 
with Arelli.” 

They nodded agreement. 

The next showed a steaming sea in whose waters 
and on whose shores sported enormous animals as 
weird and terrible as could have been hatched from 
the brain of a madman. Then there were several areas 
of land. It was barren and shimmering with heat. 
It, too, had a varied collection of monsters. There 
were no forests ; there was no vegetation ; there was no 
man, nor anything in the least resembling him. Then, 
as if to say, “See ? It is the same all over this sphere,” 
many other like land and water areas were held up 
before them. 

Followed the image of a sphere in the distance so 
completely shrouded with clouds of hot steam that not 
a foot of the surface could be seen. 

The remainder of the record was a blank! 

Mastono and Merriam sat looking at each other 
for a time in benumbed astonishment. Merriam spoke 
first, after opening and closing his mouth several times 
without emitting a sound. 

“The beginning.” he whispered hoarsely. “No hu- 
man being on all Arelli.” 

Mastono spoke after another silence. Strangely, he, 
too, spoke in a hushed voice, as in the presence of 
the dead — or a spirit. “And taken — by whom?” 

“By the people of Marelli, of course.” 

Mastono first nodded and then shook his head — both 
in silence, and in a moment, “Perhaps.” 

The younger man stirred, took a deep, hoarse breath. 

“Come. The other one, now. Perhaps ” 

They lifted the cabinet down and placed the re- 
maining one in position before the screen. 

“This will explain the other — this one of Marelli.” 
Again the old man made the same peculiar ambiguous 
movement of nodding and shaking his head. “Perhaps.” 
If the showings on Arelli had left the two men in 
amazement, those now shown on Marelli left them even 
more so. There was the same manner of indicating 
the planet to be dealt with; then the same steaming 
seas with their enormous weird creatures; areas of 
hot land with its beasts; barren lack of anything like 
vegetation; the same complete absence of the supreme 
animal, Man! And, finally, the same representation 
of the steam-encircled sphere from a distance. 

The same blank remainder of the record. 

They sat silent a long time. At last Mastono made 
a gesture of futility, disconnected the cabinet, and set 
it with the others, and they went out together. 

T HE erros and ennas came and the erros and ennas 
fled on Arelli, as man’s puerile efforts at timing 
come and flee on the myriads of inhabited planets of 
our universe and all universes. The beastly invasion 



THE TERRORS OF ARELLI 



559 



was being held in check everywhere now, and to those 
craters that had been abandoned and retaken, the 
hordes did not come again. In the progression of 
time, albeit a little longer time than Billy Upton had 
predicted — the force of the aggression stood still, then 
lightened a little, and finally ceased altogether, as the 
ghastly swarms forgot all else in their gasping agonies 
in the frigid and airless places and began to crawl 
painfully back as near as they could get to their infernal 
dens — to die. 

The Terrors of Arelli were no more. 

But at Copernicus and all the other inhabited places 
the people refused to return to their underground dwell- 
ings. The taste of the surface and the sunshine, the 
lakes and the mountains, the black bowl with its stars 
— the taste of these was sweet in their souls. No more 
for them the deep-hewn tunnels and caverns, however 
well lighted and commodious. They must be where 
they could see Marelli — Marelli, the home of the gen- 
erally beloved Billy and Mercedes Upton, the home of 
the little bald-headed scientist whom they revered as 
the only one that Mastono, the Sage of Arelli, had ever 
been known to take into the innermost recesses of his 
scientific old heart; Marelli, the home of the Prince 
Harding, also much known as Prince Freddie, who had 
taken to wife their beloved Princess of Arelli, who was 
to bear him soon a citizen of two worlds; Marelli,' the 
home of the genial and popular young Irishman, who, 
like the Prince, had mated with Arelli, and whose union 
likewise gave imminent promise. 

“My child shall be a girl,” smiled the pretty little 
Sanna, on whom the dignity of impending motherhood 
sat with fascinating sweetness. 

Larry looked at her in mute adoration. 

“That it shall,” laughed the Princess of Arelli, “be- 
cause my child must be a boy, so that he may some day 
be the King of Arelli, and they are to wed when they 
are of the wedding age.” 

Prince Freddie winked at Larry and held his tongue, 
as a man must in such case, Larry only venturing to 
whisper clandestinely, “Faith, an’ what relation will 
that make us, Mr. Harding?” 

Sanna : “My child shall be born on Great Marelli.” 

The Princess: “Mine must be born on Arelli.” 

As for Mercedes Upton, she said no word, but her 
eyes held a faraway look. Proving that Mercedes 
Gonzales de Montiel y Santander y Upton could hold her 
tongue and her counsel — even as the President of Peru 
had once averred. 

The Terrors of Arelli being vanquished, the ships 
were preparing for their homeward flight, and the day 
was irrevocably set for the takeoff. On account of some 
pressing matters at Altara Mountain, Harding could 
delay his going no longer, and Larry was eager to be 
at work on plans for the new ships that were to ply 
regularly between the home world and Arelli. So the 
day had to be set for leaving. 

And Altara and Sanna waited, eagerly expectant. 



Waited. Waited. And in the event neither of them 
got what she had avowed she would have, which, as 
usual in things of the sort, mattered not the least, 
being found at last to be the thing they had really 
wanted anyway. For little Sanna gave birth to a boy 
— a copy of herself but with the smiling Irish eyes 
of the father; while the projected future King of Arelli 
turned out a queen. Both were born on board the 
Altarasanna, out in the ether, far from both worlds. 

Merriam besought Mastono to go to Marelli with him, 
but Mastono said he had so many important things to do 
at home that he would have to postpone the trip, greatly 
as he longed to make it. But being in the midst of a 
hot argument with Merriam, which must be concluded, 
he would step just a moment aboard for the purpose, 
and the two went into Merriam’s special quarters to 
await the time for the takeoff. This was a small 
inside room in the rear which Merriam had selected 
for quiet. 

In the end, the argument was concluded where it 
began, and they had to leave it until another trip. 

But, “There is one matter I must give some atten- 
tion to, when I reach Marelli,” said Merriam, opening 
another subject. 

Mastono leaned forward expectant. 

“Yes, yes. I had meant to mention it to you before, 
my good friend, but I think there is time yet before 
the ship starts. Some years ago — 1929, I believe, or 
possibly 1930 or 1931, a Dr. Hans Hartman succeeded 
in going down into the sea to a depth of 2,500 feet in a 
diving apparatus of his own invention.” Mastono 
leaned a little farther forward. “He discovered an 
ancient city a few hundred feet down, possibly one 
that had been built there when that part of the area 
now covered by the Mediterranean Sea was a part of the 
lowland country about what were then two large lakes. 
I understand other cities have since been discovered 
there, but for various reasons they have not yet been 
explored to any extent. Now I was thinking there 
might be records buried there which, if we could find 
them” — etc., etc. 

They were off on another lingual trek. 

By and by Harding rapped, entered, and started in 
surprise at the sight of the centenarian, who he had 
not known to be on board. For did he not hear 
Mastono say there was much to be done on Arelli? 

“Is it time for me to get off, Mr. Harding?” asked 
Mastono. 

A ghost of a smile flitted over Harding’s face, but 
he shook his head. “No, no. No hurry at all.” 

When he had gone out and closed the door, he 
grinned broadly, said something to Billy Upton, and 
they both laughed. 

“They never knew when we started.” 

“Q, well, old cheese, what difference does it make to 
a scientist where he is?” 

With which they went about their several duties 
chuckling as they went. 



The End. 



Back Issues of 

Amazing Stories Quarterly 

can be secured through 

Radio-Science Publications, Inc., 381 Fourth Avenue, New York City 



Dr. Immortelle 

By Kathleen Ludwick 



A GRADUAL and systematic degeneration of the body cells, with a corre* 
uAi. sponding weakening of the brain cells , are what constitute old age and even- 
tually bring death. When these cells are abnormally worn down by illness, for 
instance, death comes without old age. All of us have heard of cases where almost 
completely shattered cells were rebuilt and strengthened by the successful trans = 
fusion of healthy, normal blood. It seems not unreasonable to suppose, there-, 
fore, that a method of blood transfusion might be developed some time in the, 
future that would aid the continuous rebuilding of body and brain cells enough 
to materially increase the span of the individual life and avoid the seemingly j 
inevitable advent of old age. But Miss Ludwick has woven an excellent story 
around this theme, which we want ypu to enjoy first-hand. 



Illustrated by MOREY 



I HAVE to smile when I hear all this talk about 
rejuvenation, after the story Victor de Lyle told 
me, lying white and still on his cot in the hos- 
pital overlooking the ocean, the changing expres- 
sion of his great dark eyes, the only sign of life 
about him. Dr. Immortelle beat them to it by about a 
hundred and fifty years. Strange that his theory has 
never occurred to any of our modern Occidental prac- 
titioners, at least not until very recently. I saw an 
item in the papers the other day that caused me to 
suspect that a European scientist had either discov- 
ered the secret for himself or perhaps gained his inspi- 
ration from the writings of the ancient alchemists, 
where no doubt Immortelle gained his. 

I do not doubt that Methuselah lived a thousand 
years; I do not doubt that, barring accident, it is pos- 
sible for men to live ten thousand years, if they so 
desire, or that men have done so and will do so again. 
Perhaps in time, longevity like that wil! become so uni- 
versal as to be taken for granted. The process of 
rejuvenation will become as common as that of vaccina- 
tion or the injection of the various serums and anti- 
toxins that are now the fad of the hour. It may even 
become compulsory by due process of law! It will fol- 
low naturally that the Mrs. Sangsters of that day will 
be heard with respect and no doubt Malthus will have 
many statues erected to his memory. 

Why shouldn’t we be rejuvenated? Most of us have 
attained to but the vaguest conception of the meaning 
of life w r hen “the black camel kneels before the gate.” 
We hear a great deal about infant mortality, and it is 
indeed a pitiful thing: but the mortality of the men- 
tally immature is also appalling and infinitely more 
tragic. But — goats’ glands! The thought that gives 
one a feeling of nausea. I wonder if the results of that 
same operation in olden times, as the historian says, 
“shrouded by the mists of antiquity,” do not form some 



basis for the legends of fauns and satyrs, those strange 
beings, half man and half goat, which figure so largely 
in Grecian and Latin mythology; and if, perhaps, the 
increasing number of such monsters did not result in 
the discontinuance of the operation? How shocking to 
become the parent of such a being! Thank heaven, 
there is another and a better way! At least it will be 
better if there is wide and general knowledge concern- 
ing it for the protection of humanity. To the dissem- 
ination of such knowledge I now devote the last days 
of my life. For myself I do not desire longevity. Such 
a desire died in me when a Red Crop's tent was bombed 
on the French frontier. Perhaps it was for this that 
I came, alive, out of the hell of the Argonne! 

I have none of the arts of the professional writer. 
I know nothing of the rules of short-story writing. I 
am just a plain mining engineer of mediocre ability, 
wielding a geological pick and hammer more easily 
than a pen and more familiar with mortars than meta- 
phors. I could run a tunnel to tap a ledge in a por- 
phyry dike easier than I can tell this strange tale. I 
know more about secondary enrichments than I do of 
the terminology and equipment of modern surgery, 
but if the layman can grasp my meaning, I shall be 
well content. Often, strangely enough, it would seen:, 
it is the man in the street who anticipates the most 
astounding scientific discoveries and grasps their tre- 
mendous significance to humanity before his apparent 
intellectual superiors. I realize that, as Walt Whit- 
man said of his poems, “It w r ill do good — it may do 
much evil also.” But I have faith to believe that the 
good will far outweigh the evil. 

I STARTED for San Francisco one May evening 
from my parents’ home in the Santa Cruz Moun- 
tains. It was a moonlight night, and there was little 
traffic on the highway. The air was soft and mild and 



560 




fragrant with the scent of innumerable flowers in 
the gardens of the homes that line the highway- 
down the Peninsula for half-a-hundred miles. Even 
the humblest home in this favored region may pos- 
sess the never-ending joy of flowers the year around, 
if nothing more than the humble petunia and the 
cheerful scarlet geranium. Where on the face of 
the globe, except on the shores of the Mediter- 
ranean, is there another section so favored by na- 
ture as that to which the inhabitants of the region 
bordering on San Francisco Bay all pridefully refer 
to as “The Peninsula”? It is the Mecca of the 
whole Pacific Coast. From the north they “go 
down to the Bay to get warm”; from the sunny 
San Joaquin, and further south, they stream up to 
the Bay “to cool off” ! 

Eastward towered the dark bulk of Mount Diablo. 



. . . And the next instant 
•we were falling through 
space 



To my right the waters of the lower bay flashed in the 
moonlight. On my left rose green, gently sloping hills, 
with their wealth of native shrubs and trees and their 
plantations of eucalyptus, reminding me always of those 
words of Howells’: 

“The inscrutable sadness of the mute races of trees.” 

I passed Palo Alto with its picturesque university 
buildings, silent witness to the good that the tragedy 
of one life may bring to countless multitudes; the salt 
heaps of Leslie shone white as snow in the moonlight 
as I passed. It pleased me to speculate on the appear- 
ance of the section I was traversing, when it should 
have been settled as long as London or Paris or Naples 
has been. 

And so I neared the twin cities of San Mateo and 
Burlingame, the latter with its picturesque little rail- 
road station. A couple of miles south of San Mateo 
I almost ran over a woman carrying a suitcase. I 
stopped and offered her a ride. Imagine my astonish- 
ment when I found it was Linnie Chaumelle. I had 
known her as a child in Idaho and she had grown into 



561 



562 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



the loveliest woman I have ever seen. I had long ago 
lost all track of the Chaumelles, but a few months pre- 
viously had chanced to meet Linnie at the bedside of a 
friend in a local hospital, where she was on duty as a 
special nurse, and we had renewed our acquaintance. 

It was the death of Linnie’s little brother, Vernon, 
that precipitated the exposure of that strange and sin- 
ister being, Albert Immortelle, and his assistant, Vic- 
tor de Lyle, and caused them to flee from the Wood 
River Valley “between two days.” Immortelle asserted 
that the child had cut himself and he had dressed the 
wound. Linnie’s uncle, an eastern surgeon of some 
note, arrived unexpectedly for a visit about that time. 
An infection developed and the child died. The child’s 
uncle openly charged that the wound had been made 
by a surgeon, and that Immortelle had been perform- 
ing an experiment of some sort. The Chaumelles were 
amongst the oldest residents of that section and highly 
respected. Feeling ran high and threats of lynching 
were openly uttered. Immortelle and his assistant 
owned one of the first automobiles in that section. 
They fled in the night, and in spite of the attention 
excited by the appearance of autos at that time, noth- 
ing was ever heard of them again until they reappeared 
many years later in San Francisco. 

The strangest feature of it was that my own father 
stoutly affirmed that he had known Dr. Immortelle some 
forty years before and he had appeared no older at 
the time he left Wood River Valley. Dr. Immortelle 
insisted that he was the son of the physician my father 
had known, but father was positive in his identifica- 
tion. And to complicate matters still further, my 
grandfather declared that he had known this same 
Immortelle sixty years before! That he recognized 
him because of a peculiar triangular scar above one 
eyebrow. Dr. Immortelle asserted that this scar was 
a family mark — a matter of heredity: but my grand- 
father had served in the Civil War and knew some- 
thing about wounds himself. He laughed at the idea 
that the scar was a hereditary mark. As he said, it 
was very unlikely that a grandfather and son and 
grandson should have been wounded in such a manner 
as to result in the same identical sort of scar in the 
same location. Moreover, the same explanation could 
not apply to Victor de Lyle, Both my grandfather and 
my father were willing to swear to his identity, so he 
could not be explained away so easily. The people of 
the camp were frankly puzzled. Both my grandfather 
and my father were men of unquestioned veracity 
whose sanity had never been doubted, hardheaded busi- 
ness men of good judgment and common sense. There 
was some mystery here. For those still living, it will 
be solved if they chance to read this narrative. 

N O words of mine could convey a just impression 
of Linnie’s beauty and womanly grace. She was 
the ideal nurse, with the physique and vitality that 
every nurse should possess; and besides, she possessed 
that dignity and nobility of character in which many 
nurses are sadly lacking. To meet her in such a place, 
at such an hour, staggering under the weight of a 
heavy suitcase, and in what I might almost call a 
disheveled condition, was inexpressibly shocking to me. 
She was a woman of very even temperament, but she 
appeared to be laboring under considerable excitement. 
She asked me to drive her to her apartment in the 
city: but after hearing a part of her story I turned 
the car and drove back down the Peninsula — past Los 
Gatos and through the canyon, to the ranch of my 
parents in the Santa Cruz Hills, Linnie’s mother and 
mine had been friends in those long-past Idaho days 
and I knew my mother would give her the care she 
needed. I left her there and returned to the city. 



The afternoon papers were filled with the details of 
the latest accident in El Diablo Canyon. Dr. Immor- 
telle, a well-known local physician, and his associate, 
Victor de Lyle, had been conducting a sort of orphan- 
age or sanitarium at Crescent Beach. Starting for the 
city at night, they had gone over the bank, into the 
canyon, hundreds of feet below. The accident had 
apparently been caused by their swerving the car to 
avoid running over the body of a tramp that some 
other car had struck and killed. Dr. Immortelle had 
been killed instantly and shockingly mangled, and Vic- 
tor de Lyle had been fatally injured. 

One of the puzzling features of the accident had been 
the presence of a woman’s footprints near the scene 
of the tragedy; also the appearance of a young and 
beautiful woman at a little station down the Penin- 
sula, who had appeared greatly agitated at missing the 
last local to the city and had started out afoot, carry- 
ing a heavy suitcase, apparently with the intention of 
walking to the next station two or three miles away, 
to catch the interurban car whose terminus was at that 
point. The theory was advanced that the footprints 
had been made by a woman occupant of the car that 
had struck the tramp; that, getting out of the ma- 
chine, she had found the tramp to be fatally injured, 
and because of this and possibly other compromising 
circumstances, she had feared to inform the authori- 
ties. The mystery was never solved to the satisfac- 
tion of the police and detectives. Only one person be- 
sides myself and parents, and the actual actors in the 
tragedy, ever knew who made those footprints. That 
was my wife. Linnie made them — Linnie, my other 
self, who sleeps in a little French cemetery near where 
the Germans bombed the Red Cross tent where she 
tended the wounded and dying. I promised Victor de 
Lyle that I would write this story as best I could, but 
it would not have been given to the world in her life- 
time had my wife lived. I am giving it to the world 
now because the time for my own passing draws near 
and I believe the world is ready for the wide and prac- 
tical application of Dr. Immortelle’s method of rejuve- 
nation. 

* * » 

1 WENT to see Victor de Lyle as soon as the physi- 
cians would allow me to do so. There were certain 
features of Linnie’s story that I desired to have cor- 
roborated. Bit by bit, at the cost of the most excru- 
ciating agony, the recital spread over many days, he 
told me the most amazing story I have ever heard. 
There have been times since when I have wondered if 
I weren’t as locoed as any Idaho steer that has been 
browsing on rattleweed: and then I remembered find- 
ing Linnie on the highway, and what my father and 
grandfather said about having known Immortelle so 
many years before, and thereby regain faith in my own 
sanity. 

As a child I had always feared Dr. Immortelle, the 
sinister-looking older man with the dark, compelling 
eyes, despite his efforts to win my favor: but I had al- 
ways liked his young assistant, De Lyle, with the ready, 
sympathetic smile and gentle manners and the kind 
brown eyes whose expression hinted of sorrow and 
tragedy. I wrote down his story as he related it to 
me day by day. Later I read it to him and he pro- 
nounced the most vital portions correct in every detail. 
Since then I have consulted various authorities, talked 
with physicians and surgeons of international repu- 
tation, and I am assured there is no serious technical 
error in the tale. 

I can differentiate between lancet and scapula, bis- 
toury and canula; I can even discuss the merits of the 
Aveling syringe as compared with the Collins appa- 
ratus or Spencer’s instrument with the canula that 



DR. IMMORTELLE 



563 



can be plunged directly into the blood-vessel. Also, I 
have opinions as to the merits of arterial as opposed 
to intravenous transfusion: but I had hard work 
learning to twist my tongue around such terms as 
phlebotomy, arteriovenous anastomosis, ambolism and 
thrombosis: and it was a long time before I got hep 
to the difference between Crile’s tube and Payre’s tube 
and Brewster’s tube of German silver. 

VICTOR DE LYLE’S STORY 

“T WAS born a slave on a plantation in North Caro- 
lina in the year 1745. No, not 1845. I was born 
a mulatto. Perhaps you think my mind is affected 
— but wait till I have finished! My father was a white 
overseer and my mother a negress from the Guinea 
Coast and as black as ebony. I am not delirious — I 
am not insane — although I realize that it must be dif- 
ficult for you to credit my statements.” Incredulously 
I noted his soft, waving brown hair, his hazel eyes, his 
skin that in health had been fairer than my own sun- 
tanned hide. “You will believe me before my story is 
ended” he said sardonically. I did. 

“My old master was of French ancestry. Huguenot 
stock. His wife’s people were Pennsylvania Dutch— 
and Quakers. They were in one of the great treks from 
Pennsylvania to North Carolina. She had not hesi- 
tated to marry outside the faith in which she had 
been reared when she met and fell in love with the 
elder Immortelle. Perhaps it was from her that Albert 
inherited that mystical tendency which influenced his 
life so greatly. 

“The elder Immortelle was the proprietor of a large 
plantation. Naturally, he grew the products peculiar to 
that region — tobacco, cotton, com and horses. He had 
been educated for a physician but he had a passion 
for stock raising. Being an altruist, his knowledge 
of medicine and the crude surgery of the times was of 
incalculable benefit to the inhabitants of that sparsely 
settled region, and he gave of his time and services 
as freely to the most wretched slave as to the haughty 
proprietor of the most widely-stretching plantation. 
He possessed one of the finest libraries in America at 
that time. Among his books were some of the works 
of the ancient Alchemists. They possessed a strange 
fascination for his son. The boy would pore over 
them for hours when other lads of his age were en- 
gaged in riding or hunting or other local sports and 
pleasures usual to youths of their years. 

“Second only to his interest in books was the attrac- 
tion animals possessed for him, especially his father’s 
thoroughbred herd. Even as a child he was always 
begging for pets. As he grew older, he would ask 
for them under the condition that they were to be his 
own exclusive property to do with as he pleased. His 
father was greatly pleased by the scientific spirit which 
Albert displayed in the breeding of the stock on the 
plantation. My master possessed some of the best 
specimens of horseflesh in that section. He fondly 
hoped to see his son become one of the most famous 
stock-breeders of his day. If he had suspected the 
object which no doubt inspired his son even at an 
early age, his emotions would have been of a different 
character. 

“Albert turned his earliest attention to the breeding 
of poultry, cats, dogs, sheep and other comparatively 
short-lived animals, that he might observe the results 
of certain experiments on several generations. He was 
especially impressed with the disastrous results of in- 
breeding in relation to fecundity, and this formed the 
very basis of the theory he was slowly evolving and 
which was to be fraught with such tragic and mo- 
mentous results to himself and countless others. 



“Like most Southern gentlemen of that period, he 
was fond of gaming, wine and women: but so great 
was his self-control that I never knew him to overstep 
the bounds of sobriety. In gaming and the pursuit 
of women his methods were cold-bloodedly scientific; 
but I believe that during his whole lifetime he really 
loved only one woman. 

“He was selfish and cruel, persistent in the pursuit 
of any object. He was a ‘throwback,’ a reversion to 
some strange type that one found it impossible to asso- 
ciate with either parent. His father and mother never 
understood him. He was an even greater puzzle to me 
who saw more of him than anyone else did. We were 
nearly the same age. His father had given me to him 
for his own personal attendant. It seems strange to 
you that I was ever a black negro chattel, doesn’t it? 
But I assure you that it is true and I am able to verify 
this statement in every respect. I was his almost con- 
stant companion. For hours at a time he would pore 
over certain problems whose existence I did not at that 
time suspect, I have known few human beings capable 
of such intense concentration. 

“When we were young lads, he said to me once: 

“ ‘Victor, when I will to move my hand, why is it 
that my hand responds to my will? It must be for the 
reason that every smallest particle of that hand has a 
consciousness of its own!’ And this was long before 
Dalton had advanced the atomic theory. We had never 
heard of molecules or atoms, to say nothing of electrons ! 
He had no modern microscope to aid in confirming his 
theories. No one at that time had ever witnessed the 
marvelous division of cells, the orderly action of cen- 
trosomes and chromsomes with which every student 
of histology is today acquainted and takes as a matter 
of course. His error lay in his theory of the manner 
of reproduction of cells and yet, in spite of this, he and 
I are, or were, living witnesses to the success of his 
experimentation. 

“He acquired all that the colonies had to offer at 
that period in the study of medicine and surgery, then 
pursued his studies in London and Paris and even in 
other capitals of Europe. I remember once in Vienna — 
but let that pass ! I accompanied him always and for 
his own purposes he educated me. There never was the 
same prejudice on the Continent against colored people 
that has always existed here in America. 

“XT 7"E were in Paris at the outbreak of the Revolu- 

VV tionary War. A privateer nearly captured us 
on our way home. I have often wished that it had sunk 
us. Albert served through the war and I was w’ith him 
as his personal attendant. Naturally, we were exposed 
to great dangers. I feel certain now’ that he was by 
nature cowardly, but his scientific bent of mind and 
the goal he had in view were sufficient to counterbal- 
ance his fears. He had the reputation of being one 
of the most fearless and efficient surgeons in the Con- 
tinental Army. Strange that a man should so deter- 
minedly face death in his efforts to find a preventive 
of Death itself! How many revolutionary heroes lost 
their lives as a result of his experiments I have no 
means of knowing, but the total was doubtless large. 
I possessed a considerable knowledge of medicine and 
surgery, myself, for those times, which was all a part 
of my master’s plans. He took great pains to instruct 
me in the anatomy of the nerves and blood-vessels. 

“At the close of the war we settled in New York. 
We took a house in a secluded suburban section. Im- 
mortelle was then about forty years old and both of us 
commenced to feel the effects of years of military ser- 
vice with the inescapable hardships which would appear 
so incredibly severe to modern soldiers. My master’s 
step was not so springy as it had been. 



564 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Never have I seen a human being who dreaded the 
approach of age as did my master. It was while we 
were living in the New York house that he first 
broached the subject that must have been uppermost in 
his thoughts for years. I was astounded. His plans 
to make practical application of his theories filled me 
with horror, hardened to suffering as I had become 
during the course of the war. I am by nature conserv- 
ative. Also, I had not the depth of intellect of Albert 
Immortelle, nor his scientific bent of mind. Even yet 
I have not entirely overcome what I might call the 
tendency towards inertia of the negroid race! And 
the tendency was very strongly marked in me at that 
time. Afterwards, I could recall many hints and innu- 
endoes that should have prepared me for his disclosure 
and I wondered that I had not grasped his purpose 
sooner. Cleverly he dangled the bait before me. 

“ ‘Remember,’ he would say when I wavered, ’only 
accident can bar us from attaining any age we may 
desire to reach. We can remain youthful and grow 
increasingly attractive with the passage of the years, 
instead of hideously ugly with wrinkled skins and 
bald heads and the yellow snags of age in our mouths 
that ever repel youth and beauty.’ (Our dentists at 
that day were not capable of performing the miracles 
of artistic dental surgery that we take as a matter of 
course today.) 

“Remember, he was my master — I his slave. Over 
me he had the power of life and death. Never was 
such a cunning tempter. He tempted me with the prom- 
ise of freedom and the hope that through the gradual 
loss of most of my own blood, covering a long period 
of time, and the substitution of Caucasian blood 
through the process of transfusion, I might, to all in- 
tents and purposes, become a Caucasian. You cannot 
understand what that means, you who have not been 
an object of contempt and disdain through no fault 
of your own; you who have not been jostled brutally 
on the sidewalk and kicked off the curb by your actual 
inferiors, and felt yourself helpless to resent brutality 
and insult! 

“Briefly, his theory was this : That the tiny particles 
of our bodies which we now call cells, breed and repro- 
duce their kind in a manner somewhat similar to 
that of most animals; that the inbreeding through 
countless generations, in the body of a human being 
which they themselves compose, causes a loss in fe- 
cundity just as it does in horses and cattle; causes the 
cells to degenerate, to ‘run out,’ as we say of animals 
and plants; and that this loss- in fecundity is the true 
cause of old age. He believed that, as stock men range 
far afield for new strains to strengthen the breeds of 
their flocks and herds, so new vigor might be acquired 
by introducing young and vigorous cells into the blood 
of the aged. Necessarily, the cells to be so introduced 
must be from, the vascular systems of youth; and even 
then, I think, he glimpsed the truth which science has 
but lately demonstrated, that the character of the blood 
of an individual becomes fixed at the age of three or 
four years and thereafter remains constant. 

“There is no doubt that the ancient Alchemists prac- 
ticed this method of rejuvenation. Immortelle’s error 
lay in his theory as to the manner of reproduction of 
the cells, which, instead of breeding with older cells 
in the veins of the recipient, simply multiplied through 
division in their new locations crowding out the weaker 
cells, and went about their tasks of building the body 
with new materials and removing the waste products. 

“Transfusion is old — how old no man can say. It 
was probably practiced long before recorded history. A 
friend of mine who has accompanied several archeo- 
logical expeditions to the Far East asserts that the Al- 
chemists gained their knowledge from the secret 



records of a fraternity old before Babylon and 
Nineveh became but rubbish heaps covered by the 
shifting desert sands! It is a fact that transfusion 
was employed in the case of Pope Innocent VII, and 
there is a tradition to the effect that three young boys 
perished in the attempt. Perhaps the old legends of 
vampirism had their origin in such a source. 

‘‘’’"TpRANSFUSION is a common operation today, but 

A when Albert Immortelle first broached the sub- 
ject to me, an open announcement of our object would 
have been regarded with the greatest horror and only 
too well-founded fear of results would have rendered it 
impossible for us to secure subjects. Anesthetics had 
not yet been discovered and aseptic surgery was a hun- 
dred years in the future. We had to devise ways and 
means of securing subjects. 

“It was my young master’s plan to found an orphan- 
age, whose most promising inmates he would later use 
for his transfusion experiments, which heretofore had 
included animals only. I was to be his first subject 
after the children; and when I had mastered the de- 
tails of the process, he himself would submit to the 
operation. Of course, the danger as well as the suf- 
fering was incalculably greater than in these days of 
anesthetics and aseptic surgery. My master was skilled 
in the art of hypnotism, or mesmerism, as it was then 
called, but it often failed. Probably he was the first 
surgeon to use that strange force for anesthetization. 
It is a well-known fact that children are less suscept- 
ible to it than adults; and our subjects were all chil- 
dren, mostly of tender years — in fact all that survived 
were of such tender age! Tales of children of such 
age would in any event be treated as due to vivid imag- 
inations. Even to this day I sometimes waken from 
nightmares with the agonized screams of those little 
victims ringing in my ears. 

“Today there is practically no danger from infection 
and the danger from clotting is being eliminated 
through the division of humanity into groups classified 
according to the constituency of their blood. We had 
no aspirating syringe to determine the amount of 
blood taken from the donors and how many little vic- 
tims lost their lives in this manner, as sacrifices to 
our rejuvenation, I have no means of knowing. It was, 
of course, unwise to keep records of such cases. All I 
know is that there were many fatalities. How we es- 
caped with our own lives is a mystery to me. I am 
unable to fathom the inscrutable purpose of Providence 
in allowing us to cumber this earth for so long a time. 

“When my conscience revolted, always before my eyes 
Immortelle dangled the bait of my own altered per- 
sonality ; for I had emerged, a radiant Caucasian, from 
my somber and repellent negroid chrysalis. As far as I 
personally am concerned, from a physical standpoint, 
I am, or rather was, a living witness to the success, of 
his experiment. Even the most widely experienced 
ethnologist would hardly suspect me of having one drop 
of negro blood in my veins. No one who had known 
me as a kinky-haired mulatto youth, were he in exist- 
ence still, would ever recognize that colored boy in the 
cultured, refined Caucasian with the waving brown 
hair, hazel eyes and complexion as fair as your own, 
with the rosy hue of health in his cheeks. From a 
selfish and brutal young savage with a violent temper, 
I had been transformed into an amiable and tractable 
individual, vastly useful to my master, but more con- 
scientious than was conducive to my peace of mind or 
his. This was due, I am sure, to Immortelle’s delib- 
erate selection of children of most amiable disposition 
for donors in transfusion operations in which I was the 
recipient. For himself he always selected fearless and 
intrepid subjects of indomitable wills. Such wills are 



DR. IMMORTELLE 



565 



often characteristic of amiable children. Stubbornness 
and strength of will differ from each other as widely 
as the poles. 

“For the sake of greater safety, to be more reason- 
ably certain that the blood of the donor would assimi- 
late with my own, in the beginning Immortelle chose 
donors amongst mulattoes, then quadroons, then octo- 
roons, before he selected white donors. He had formu- 
lated a theory which is now a well-established fact, 
that to introduce the blood of a higher animal into the 
veins of a lower is to cause the death of the lower. 
The negroid strain being predominant in my blood, and 
the negro race being inferior to the Caucasian, he log- 
ically reasoned that the introduction of pure white blood 
into my veins might result fatally to me. Always he 
bled me freely before a transfusion. It is probable that 
there is hardly a trace of Ethiopian blood in my veins 
today. Immortelle deserves credit at least for his sci- 
entific accomplishments. Intellectually he was a giant 
amongst the men of his time. When he commenced his 
experiments he had no safe and sure scientific ground 
beneath his feet. He was treading the insecure and 
shifting sands of conjecture. 

“Always he emphasized the ultimate benefit to hu- 
manity of our experiments; but for many a long and 
lonely year I realized that his own chief object was 
to live as long as possible, in order to gratify his sen- 
sual appetites, however Epicurean they might have 
been termed, to the limit of danger to his hold on life. 

“Every man with a drop of negroid blood in his 
veins has a passionate desire for offspring. Several 
times I contemplated marriage, but Albert always dis- 
couraged me, and, I realize now, placed all possible 
obstacles in the way of accomplishing my desire. Ah' 
ways there was the vexatious problem of the ‘throw- 
back,’ the reversion to type. Mendel, the Austrian 
monk, had not formulated his famous laws at the com- 
mencement of our operations, but I believe Immortelle 
had a more or less hazy conception of the principles 
involved long before Mendel announced them to a skep- 
tical world. 

“In any event, Immortelle argued, if we married and 
had families, we must either wutness the passing from 
life of our wives and offspring, or witness their endur- 
ance of the sufferings and dangers of transfusion. We 
knew nothing of aseptic surgery, but I believe my mas- 
ter grasped the principles of it before we commenced 
our experiments, for he always used boiled water and 
the scorched linen dressings that so many regarded 
merely as a superstition of old midwives. 

“npHERE was always the danger of thrombosis due 

A to the admixture of certain bloods which refused 
to assimilate. Immortelle argued, with good grounds 
for his conviction, that it would be impossible to re- 
juvenate our wives and offspring even to the second 
generation, without knowledge of our methods becom- 
ing known. Someone amongst such a large group 
would inevitably give the secret away. Also when a 
hue and cry were raised, as was bound to be the case 
sooner or later, it w r ould be difficult, if not impossible, 
to escape from popular wrath with a large number of 
relatives and dependents. It had been difficult enough 
on several occasions for our two selves. So reluctantly 
I relinquished my dream of conjugal felicity — the ten- 
der joys of one’s own fireside, for the Dead Sea fruit 
of immortality in the flesh. I realized my error many 
long years ago: for I have come to know that immor- 
tality for the individual isolated from his kind could 
not atone for the loss of the happiness conferred by 
a perfect and harmonious union and the sweet delights 
afforded by the companionship of one’s own offspring. 

“Of course it was impossible to conduct an orphan- 



age without attendants, and more especially female 
attendants. Ours were chiefly young women who had 
committed indiscretions and whose reputations had 
been saved by Immortelle and myself. They were obvi- 
ously curious when assisting at transfusion operations, 
but their curiosity was never satisfied. The trained 
nurse had not as yet been evolved when we commenced 
our experiments in rejuvenation.* 

“Naturally all our philanthropic efforts to save the 
reputations of the erring were not successful. Usually 
they covered their tracks in coming to us and always 
bore an assumed name. When they departed, only Im- 
mortelle and I knew how, or when, or what their des- 
tination was. We had many aliases, he and I, but used 
our own names most frequently. It was embarrass- 
ing to meet people one had perhaps known forty years 
before. In such cases, he often passed for a son of 
himself, as in Idaho, where, however, he failed to de- 
ceive your father. 

“In spite of all, suspicion would fasten on us. 
Rumors would spread connecting us with various mys- 
terious disappearances. We found it expedient to leave 
our New York address on one occasion, more hastily 
than was convenient. So it was with our Philadelphia 
orphanage and others we established in this country. 
It was the same with those we established in London, 
and in Paris and other Continental cities. In some loca- 
tions we spent as long a period as ten years. In others 
no sooner were we established than some catastrophe 
would occur, which would spoil all our plans and send 
us scurrying into hiding. This was the case when we 
were compelled to depart so hastily from that quiet and 
comparatively isolated valley in Idaho, where you and I 
first met — you a child and I to all appearances a young 
and inexperienced physician, but in reality an old and 
saddened man with experience of agonies unparalleled 
by any other person save my master, Immortelle! On 
him they had had apparently no effect. 

“In that little Idaho mining camp everything 
seemed favorable to our plans. It was a small camp 
and yet not small enough to allow each resident to be- 
come extremely familiar with the private affairs of all 
the rest. There was a considerable floating population, 
as in all mining camps, which was an advantage from 
our point of view. 

“The absolute privacy essential to the successful pros- 
ecution of our plans was possible in the house we chose 
amongst the magnificent old cottonwoods of the river 
bottom and from which that beautiful but brawling 
stream derives its name. Earth does not hold a more 
picturesque spot than that narrow valley walled in by 
the precipitous mountains of the Sawtooth range. 
Often I close my eyes to see quite vividly again those 
miles on miles of cottonwoods. I recall the contrast of 
their orange hues in autumn with the dark green of 
the hardy firs that venture bravely down into the val- 
ley so far from most of their kind, and I see the thou- 
sands of acres of flame-colored chokecherry brush. And 
in the early summer, who that has ever seen them can 
forget those acres upon acres of blue forget-me-nots? 
In that valley they seem to disregard their naturally re- 
tiring habits that leads them to choose their abodes in 
the shelter of trees and shrubs. Away from all shelter, 
they boldly advance into the valley and flaunt their 
vivid hues under the bluer skies of Idaho ! 

“Our house, as you remember, was an old, flimsy, 
unpainted weatherbeaten structure, but easily and 
cheaply remodeled for our purpose, ostensibly that of 
residence and laboratory. Immortelle was supposed to 
be deeply interested in the study of chemistry. Natur- 
ally, in such a climate, where the cold is so intense for 



*The first class of trained nurses was graduated in 1872, 



566 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



a long period of each year, deep cellars are indispens- 
able. We constructed a large one, also an under- 
ground laboratory with double skylight and heavy shut- 
ters which would prevent freezing of our chemicals and 
also serve to muffle any undesirable sounds and outcries. 

“The river bottom consisted chiefly of gravel in 
which a small grave might easily and rapidly be dug at 
dead of night, if necessary. Also, the cottonwoods and 
thickets of wild roses, chokecherries and other shrubs 
hung with the creepers of the wild clematis, screened 
us in summer from inquisitive eyes and permitted easy 
access to a certain disreputable quarter of the camp. It 
was always possible in case of urgent necessity to se- 
cure assistance from this quarter, for there are always 
some nurses amongst these unfortunates. Dr. Immor- 
telle never passed up anything. In return for his pro- 
fessional services he was usually able to obtain assist- 
ance that was almost as invaluable as his own. We 
were acquainted with the details of many a tragedy hid- 
den from the knowledge of the general public. As you 
may know, it was the discovery by two little girls of 
the grave of a newborn infant, richly clad, in the 
gravel of the river bottom, together with the death of 
little Vernon Chaumelle, that precipitated our flight. 

“There never was any necessity, from a financial 
standpoint, for Dr. Immortelle or myself to practice 
our professions. The proceeds from the sale of his 
father’s plantation, to which he was the only heir, had 
been invested in Manhattan real estate nearly a hun- 
dred years before, as well as my own salary after the 
Emancipation Proclamation. The doctor’s profession 
was only a blind, only a cloak for our real and sinister 
purposes. 

“ A CONSIDERABLE space of time is naturally re- 
l \ quired to establish a physician in a new location. 
Immortelle usually employed some length of time in 
judiciously cultivating the acquaintance of the local 
‘four hundred,’ many of whom, sooner or later, he was 
absolutely certain, would require his professional ser- 
vices. It fell to my lot to make the acquaintance of the 
oldest inhabitants and, through them, to familiarize 
myself with the history of the best families, chiefly in 
regard to heredity, persistently recurring physical 
characteristics and freedom from blood taint of a cer- 
tain character. 

“The densely wooded river bottom furnished an ideal 
playground for the children of the camp. There were 
long stretches of clean white sand and gravel to play 
in; Indian paint brush to suck honey from; thickets 
of wild roses, willow clumps for shade with violets 
hidden in the lush grass of their shady recesses, coral 
flowers and fragrant red mallow. An ideal spot also 
for two human vampires to find a childish victim ! 

“Not being on the main line of the railroad, that 
section was rarely visited by tramps at that time, al- 
though at long intervals they used the willows for a 
camping ground. Down there in the willows we assidu- 
ously cultivated the friendship of the little ones 
through stories we told them, and the judicious gifts 
of sweets. We finally decided upon a donor for the 
next transfusion operation in which Immortelle was 
to be the recipient. Carefully we spun the threads of 
our web. 

“The Chaumelles were amongst the oldest and most 
respected residents of that section. There was no blood 
taint in the family. They had been clean living and 
high thinking people for generations. One of the chil- 
dren, Vernon, met all but one of the doctor’s require- 
ments. He possessed no trace of cruelty, and he was 
a hundred per cent perfect from a physical standpoint. 
He was courageous, strong-willed, but not stubborn, 
and of more than average mentality. He was then 



scarcely five years old and Linnie, his little sister and 
constant companion, was a little over three. They often 
came to play in the willows with older children. One 
day they ran away by themselves from their home at 
the opposite edge of town. They were playing in the 
grove near our house when Vernon fell and hurt his 
arm. It was a mere scratch and really needed no atten- 
tion. By dint of a little candy and considerable per- 
suasion, we succeeded in getting them inside the house, 
little golden-haired Linnie, with the wide, wondering 
blue eyes, and dark-eyed, sturdy little Vernon. 

“Linnie was left in our living-room, while Immor- 
telle extracted the splinter from her little brother’s 
arm. A box of chocolates and some wondrously illus- 
trated story books, purchased purposely for such occa- 
sions, occupied her attention for awhile; but tiring of 
them, she found her way unexpectedly, through a door 
carelessly left unlocked, to our subterranean operating- 
room. I have never been able to forget the expression 
of her great blue eyes when she saw me in my white 
smock and cap, surrounded by the implements of my 
murderous occupation, and her little brother strapped 
securely to one table under the influence of the imper- 
fect anesthetic, his pale face becoming ever paler as the 
life stream flowed from his little artery through the 
glass tube into the vein of the sinister-looking man 
reclining on the other table beside the child’s couch. 
We were not yet using an aspirating syringe, which 
would allow us to measure the quantity of blood lost 
by the donor, and were alarmed by the pallor and weak- 
ness of the little boy. Even the two hardened creatures 
who assisted at the operation seemed frightened and 
conscience-stricken. 

“I carried Vernon home, his little pale face resting 
on my shoulder. I had concocted some plausible tale to 
account for the prolonged absence of the children. The 
whole camp had been searching for them. I told a story 
of a fall and a wound caused by a piece of tin from an 
old can left by some hoboes at their camp, and a serious 
loss of blood. I promised to call next day and dress 
the wound in case it seemed inexpedient to take Vernon 
to the office. Dr. Immortelle was indisposed, having 
injured himself with a lancet in dressing Vernon’s 
wound. What a hypocrite I felt; how vile I knew my- 
self to be, when they thanked me so profusely for my 
kindness! 

“You know what happens sometimes to the best laid 
plans of mice and men. Perhaps you recall the incident 
that led to our undoing; how Vernon’s uncle, an east- 
ern surgeon of some note, arrived unexpectedly on a 
visit and himself dressed the wound; how his sus- 
picions were aroused. You remember how an infection 
developed and the child died, and how almost simul- 
taneously the grave of a newborn infant was discov- 
ered in suspiciously close proximity to our ‘laboratory.’ 
Perhaps you can recall the investigation that followed. 
You may remember that a sort of catacombs was later 
discovered connecting with our operating-room, several 
bricked-up niches and their gruesome contents ; but be- 
fore that we were well on our way to safety. We 
owned one of the first automobiles in that part of the 
country. 

“Your father declared that he had known Immortelle 
himself forty years before in the East, and not the lat- 
ter’s father, as Immortelle had always insisted; and to 
cap the climax, your grandfather solemnly averred that 
he had known this same Immortelle sixty years before, 
and that at the time he appeared in Wood River Val- 
ley, he appeared no older than at the time your grand- 
father had known him in his youth ! One factor in his 
recognition and his positive identification consisted of 
a peculiar triangular scar over the left eyebrow. Had 
it been a birthmark it might have appeared for sev- 



DR. IMMORTELLE 



567 



eral generations ; but it was improbable that three gen- 
erations would meet with an accident resulting in the 
same identically shaped scar in the very same location. 
Some who had known your father and grandfather 
well for many years were frankly puzzled. They knew 
them for men whose reputation for truth and veracity 
had never been questioned. Others were greatly 
amused and openly accused them of being the victims 
of hallucinations. They made sarcastic references to 
the Wandering Jew, to St. Germaine, to Lord Lytton’s 
well-known hero, Zanoni, and that lesser-known but no 
less remarkable character of fiction, Melmuth the Wan- 
derer. 

“ \ FTER some years we returned to San Francisco. 

Both of us were younger in appearance than when 
we fled from Idaho. Also, there were several little 
graves in the Argentine, whose occupants, if they could 
have spoken, might have thrown considerable light on 
the source of our youthful appearance and whose pite- 
ous tales would have wrung the hearts of humanity and 
brought down swift and terrible retribution on the 
vampires who had waxed young and strong on their 
suffering and the sacrifice of their young lives. 

“It was not long until Immortelle was practicing suc- 
cessfully again, with a numerous and fashionable 
clientele. He soon acquired a reputation for philan- 
thropy by contributing princely sums to various or- 
phanages and other charitable institutions for children, 
and was always ready and willing to attend the little 
unfortunates they harbored, giving his services freely 
and without charge. Also, he did much charity work 
amongst the children of the poor, although not nearly 
so much as he was given credit for doing. I myself did 
a large portion of the work he was credited with. He 
was known to be deeply interested in the study of 
heredity and was a specialist in blood transfusion, 
which becomes increasingly safer, because of the con- 
tinuous progress in aseptic surgery and the classifica- 
tion of humanity into groups according to the constitu- 
ents of their blood. 

“When at last his reputation seemed firmly estab- 
lished, he purchased an old house in the midst of a 
large, wooded acreage close to the ocean shore and 
within sound of the breakers, many miles south of the 
city. It had formerly belonged to an eccentric and 
wealthy recluse, who had chosen this secluded situation 
for his retirement. The advent of the automobile had 
changed conditions somewhat and a highway ran a com- 
paratively short distance from the place. The house 
was an old, rambling structure. It stands on a rocky 
promontory overlooking the ocean, surrounded on two 
sides by a tall, thick cypress hedge. Little did the 
passing motorists dream of the stairs that led down 
through solid rock to a tunnel connecting with the 
ocean, and in which a stout boat was always moored. 

“It was here that we established an orphanage and 
sanitarium for a small number of children, after thor- 
oughly remodeling the old place. For these children 
Immortelle had conceived a deep and eternal interest 
and affection, but he sometimes remarked, with the 
most wistful expression and in an extremely melan- 
choly tone, that no sooner had he become deeply at- 
tached to one of his young proteges than Fate would 
operate in some strange way to deprive him of their 
companionship — a fact which I thoroughly understood 
and was well able to confirm. He might also have added 
that Fate had seen fit to deprive him of the services 
of several nurses who had assisted at transfusion oper- 
ations which had terminated unfortunately. 

“Of course all our philanthropic efforts to avert dis- 
grace did not terminate as we could desire. There were 
a number of mysterious disappearances of young women 



from that region which have never been explained to 
the satisfaction of — shall we use the stereotyped for- 
mula of ‘the police’ or of the ‘general public’? But in 
the public mind our own institution was never con- 
nected with them in any way until that accident in 
Deep Canyon. 

“•pvUitmG the influenza epidemic, beautiful Linnie 
Chaumelle entered into our lives again, Linnie 
whom we had known as a child in Idaho and whose 
little brother Vernon had virtually met death at our 
hands. All the nurses in San Francisco were either in 
attendance on victims of the epidemic or ill themselves 
when it made its appearance at our orphanage. Linnie 
had chosen the career of a trained nurse. There is no 
finer or nobler under heaven. Her parents had both 
died when she was quite young and the family had be- 
come widely separated. Very likely she had forgotten 
the names of Immortelle and myself. Albert engaged 
her without a personal interview, contrary to his usual 
habit, on the recommendation of a brother physician. 
It was something we had never done before, but our 
need was urgent. When they met, it was obvious to 
me, who knew him so well, that with Dr. Immortelle, 
the selfish, cynical, absolutely conscienceless man of 
the world, it was a case of love at first sight ! 

“It was not to be wondered at. Linnie Chaumelle 
is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen during 
more than a century and a half of evil living. She 
could well have served some great artist as the model 
for an angel, with her rose-leaf skin, her masses of 
chestnut hair with its glints of gold framing her lovely 
face; and those large, limpid blue eyes, through which 
one may glimpse her radiant soul. 

“As time passed, it became increasingly evident that, 
for the first time in his evil existence, Albert had fallen 
victim to that little god who is no respecter of persons. 
Day by day I watched his love for Linnie grow. He 
vainly endeavored to exert his undoubtedly great hyp- 
notic powers over her, but no evil power could affect 
that pure spirit that occupied a plane so vastly supe- 
rior to his own. I had determined, in any event, that 
her mind should be kept free from the octopus-like 
tentacles of his hypnotic powers at any cost to myself. 

“As I have said, all our philanthropic efforts did 
not terminate as successfully as we could have desired. 
It was while Linnie was at the sanitarium that one of 
the disastrous terminations occurred. Linnie is not 
naturally suspicious, but she is a young woman of more 
than average intelligence. As a nurse, she possesses 
from observation a wide knowledge of evil in countless 
manifestations; but her own soul has remained un- 
contaminated. She had not been there long before vari- 
ous circumstances combined to arouse her suspicions. 

“I have mentioned a subterranean passage. It was 
convenient in case of emergency; and yet we found 
that stout ropes and even chains attached to pallid 
bodies of unfortunates and anchored by heavy weights 
have been snapped asunder by the violence of the 
breakers on that rocky coast. It was an incident of 
that nature that led to Immortelle’s decision to dispose 
otherwise of the remains of a young and beautiful un- 
fortunate and that likewise led to our undoing. Fate 
is a tricky hag! I should say, more correctly, what I 
now know to be the truth, that the time was at hand 
for reaping what we had sown. 

“We had spent most of the previous night in digging 
a grave in the mellow soil of a small, isolated country 
place down the Peninsula. The ground belonged to me 
and I objected to this use of it, but my objections were 
silenced as usual by Immortelle. We removed the mute 
witness of our evil deeds from the sanitarium under 
cover of darkness, as we supposed, without the knowl- 



568 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



edge of any of the inmates except the one nurse attend- 
ant on that case. We had no reason to fear that she 
would make any damaging disclosures. 

“Immortelle placed the poor body in the rear* seat 
and sat beside it, supporting it in an upright position, 
while I drove the car. As I have said, he was by nature 
cowardly, and not all the transfusions from the veins 
of courageous donors had ever overcome this tendency. 
A large touring car followed us somewhat closely. Im- 
mortelle suspected that they had some suspicion of our 
sinister design, or that they might contemplate a 
hold-up. I think he was entirely wrong, but at any rate 
he became greatly agitated and was thrown into a per- 
fect paroxysm of terror. His great black eyes rolled 
like the eyes of a maniac, his pallid face forming a 
startling contrast to his raven hair. His forehead was 
covered with great drops of perspiration and he was 
shaking as if with an ague. In any event, they could 
hardly have overtaken us. Our car was specially con- 
structed for speed — as a physician’s car should be, of 
course! Only we knew what speed it was capable of 
attaining. But he was terror-stricken, incapable of 
reasoning. 

“Taster! Faster!’ he screamed, as I drove the car 
at dangerous speed around sharp curves on the brink 
of a five-hundred-foot precipice. We managed to elude 
our pursuers, if such they were, by turning off into a 
little-used road and waiting until they had passed ; then 
we turned back into the main road. Never have I seen 
a human being in such a panic. In spite of my remon- 
strances he made me stop as close to the brink as pos- 
sible, where the canon wall fell away below us for hun- 
dreds of feet, and compelled me to assist in pushing the 
poor girl’s body over the edge into the abyss below. 
Then we re-entered the car and drove on to the city. 

“In the ordinary course of events, the corpse would 
have remained undiscovered for years, perhaps until 
identification had become difficult, if not impossible; 
but in avoiding Scylla, we had become engulfed in 
Charybdis. Some Boy Scouts climbed down into the 
canon next day to recover a lost hat and made the 
gruesome discovery of the remains! 

“The papers were full of pictures of the poor victim 
who was not identified for a considerable space of time. 
They were full of supposed details of the crime. We 
felt comparatively safe, as only one of our nurses had 
been in attendance on the victim and we had every 
reason to feel sure of her discretion and loyalty. We 
had taken special precautions in regard to the ar- 
rival at the sanitarium of the girl now dead, so we felt 
confident that only the three of us had seen her there ; 
but it happened that, of all persons in the world, Lin- 
nie had by accident, through the opening of the wrong 
door on a certain occasion, obtained a passing glimpse 
of her and recognized her picture! She went to Im- 
mortelle at once. Her wonderful eyes rested steadily 
on his as she said : 

“ ‘I will ask you to take me to the city immediately, 
Dr. Immortelle.’ 

“T_TE remonstrated, but it was useless, so he agreed 
ll that we should take her in to the city that eve- 
ning. Then he laid the hideous plan in which I appar- 
ently acquiesced. 

“‘She knows too much, now!’ he said, his face dis- 
torted with rage and fear. ‘She must be silenced!’ I 
shuddered. I had heard those words from him so 
many times in the course of close to a hundred and 
fifty years. I am certain he had come to feel the same 
towards me because of my increasing repugnance 
toward the course we were pursuing, which must have 
been obvious to him. My awakening conscience must 
have become a source of alarm to this man, himself. 



without even the vestige of such an inconvenient fac- 
ulty. I believe that he had planned my removal, as soon 
as it could be conveniently accomplished and he could 
secure the assistance of a confederate to take my place. 

“We owned a cabin in a secluded nook, not far from 
the road, yet far enough to prevent any sounds of ter- 
ror or agony from being heard by passing motorists. 
It had proven convenient for our purposes on more than 
one occasion. Its windows were heavily shuttered and 
it was surrounded by dense shrubs and trees, so that 
its existence would ordinarily have remained unsus- 
pected by passers-by. Immortelle proposed that we 
should start for the city with Linnie. We were to de- 
velop engine trouble when opposite the cabin. Knowing 
that Linnie would not care to remain alone with him 
on the highway, such was the repugnance with which 
he evidently inspired her, I was to go to the cabin for 
the tools we should find necessary, and she was to ac- 
company me. The rest would be easy, he judged from 
certain past experiences of a similar nature. After 
she had been drugged and rendered insensible and was 
at his mercy — after she had been kept at the pleasure 
of his will as long as suited his purpose, he judged she 
would become sufficiently tractable. Her own few re- 
maining relatives were far away and she would prob- 
ably not be missed for an indefinite period. 

“I had an entirely different plan. I reverenced Lin- 
nie as I have never reverenced any other woman. I 
instinctively sensed the incorruptible purity of her 
soul, her unlimited sympathy of that maternal char- 
acter which persists, though even in the very slightest 
degree, in the most debased and corrupted specimen of 
femininity. I would gladly have given my life to 
save her from him. I had no hope that she would 
ever care for me — no desire to bind her pure life to 
mine, with its innumerable crimes. I had ceased to 
crave for continued existence. The many crimes in 
which I had been Immortelle’s accomplice, although for 
years unwillingly, lay heavy on my conscience. From 
myself the world had nothing more to fear; but the 
conscience of Immortelle was unawakened. He was a 
menace to humanity. I decided that the greatest ser- 
vice I could render humanity would be to put an end 
to his career, even at the sacrifice of my own life. 

“We left the orphanage that evening offer dinner. 
I was driving. Linnie occupied the seat beside me, 
refusing to sit in the rear seat with Immortelle, where, 
unknown to herself, only a short time before he had 
supported the body of a victim. Not far from the cabin 
that was to be her destination, and not far distant from 
the place where we had thrown the body of the young 
nurse over the canon wall, I ran over a pedestrian. 
He was a tramp, clad in khaki-colored clothing — you 
know its low range of visibility — but we might have 
avoided striking him had it not been for the excessive 
speed at which we were traveling. 

“ ‘Drive on ! Drive on, you fool !’ screamed Immor- 
telle as I stopped the car. All of us got out. The man 
was fatally injured but he still breathed. 

“ ‘Dead!’ said Albert nonchalantly. He took the vic- 
tim by the feet and dragged him out of the road. 

“ ‘Get in !’ he ordered, as Linnie stood there, white 
with horror. 

“ ‘Surely you will not leave him there !’ she gasped. 
‘The man is not dead!’ 

“‘He is only a tramp! What difference can his life 
or death make?’ snarled Immortelle. 

“ ‘He is a human being ! If you leave him here you 
will leave me with him!’ she said defiantly. The spot- 
light shone on Immortelle’s face. It was black with 
rage and murderous. And then Linnie remembered! 

“ ‘I know you now, you fiend !’ she said, and took 
a step nearer and shook her finger accusingly at him. 



DR. IMMORTELLE 



569 



“ ‘You are the man who killed my little brother!’ 

“Immortelle snarled like a trapped animal. There 
was the flash of steel in his hand; but before he could 
spring on Linnie with the knife, I had struck him on 
the head with a revolver. Then I trussed him up with 
a tow-rope and a dog-chain we had in the car. The 
tramp had breathed his last. I dragged both of them 
into the bushes. I put Linnie into the car. 

“ ‘I will return for them,’ I said in answer to her un- 
spoken question. We started for the nearest little rail- 
road station, thinking she could catch the midnight 
local to the city. On the way I gave her the barest 
outline of this story. She is a nurse and acquainted 
with the marvelous results of transfusion, with all the 
latest aids and discoveries of the scientific medical 
world. Perhaps she thought me a mere madman, but 
I fully believe she accepted my story and had faith in 
my repentance. I made her promise to say nothing 
until she should hear from me again. I wanted to keep 
her name out of the papers. You know what they are. 
We had engine trouble in truth and it was late when 
we reached the outskirts of the little station where she 
was to take the train. Immortelle and myself and our 
car were well known there and I judged it best, in spite 
of the lateness of the hour, for her to proceed alone. 

“ ‘You will probably never see me again,’ I said at 
parting. ‘Think kindly of me sometimes, if you can.’ 

“ ‘Do not go back!’ she begged. ‘I am afraid for you! 
He will kill you!’ 

“PERHAPS she sensed that bit of good in me which 
ST persists in the most hardened. I had saved her. 
Perhaps she grasped my plan, telepathically, and 
shrank from its accomplishment, for her forebears have 
been law-abiding people for many generations. I took 
her hand and kissed it. The little innocent, with an 
impulse which sprang from her recognition of my genu- 
ine repentance, her gratitude, and her own strong ma- 
ternal instinct of protection, put up her pure lips for 
me to kiss, she with her lily-white soul and I with 
my soul as black as my face once was! I was not fit 
to touch the hem of her garment with my lips, but I 
kissed her once. Nothing can erase .the memory of that 
kiss. That second of supreme bliss was enough to rec- 
ompense me for all I must face here and in the here- 
after. I know you do not begrudge it to me, you who 
are destined to be her mate. Remember that, though 
I have practically become Aryan in body, my soul is 
still that of an Ethiopian — and colored people have 
strange moments of clairvoyance, whose reason is 
known only to the occultist. 

“I drove away and left her. I have seen death in 
countless forms ; I have been an accomplice, times with- 
out number, in what practically amounted to murder 
under the guise of scientific experimentation; I have 
witnessed scenes of horror whose remembrance fills me 
with an agony of remorse; and tears had been strangers 
to my eyes for what seemed like ages; but when I 
drove away and left here there, I could hardly see to 
drive for the blessed tears that filled my eyes. You 
know what happened — that she was too late for the 
local and started to walk to San Mateo, carrying her 
heavy suitcase. And how you came along and picked 
her up, thank God! 

“I returned to the spot where I had left Immortelle 
and the body of the tramp. It makes cold chills run 
up and down my spine even now when I remember the 
look in Immortelle’s eyes when I turned my flashlight 
on him where he lay bound and gagged. His eyes 
seemed to emit veritable flashes of venomous light. I 
almost quailed before him, bound and helpless as he 
was; but the thought of Linnie put courage into me. 
And I realized that my failure to carry out my plan 



meant death for me. My one fear was that someone 
would come along before my work was done, but there 
was little traffic over that road at night. 

“ ‘Now I am going to drive both of us over the cliff,' 

I said. ‘If it were not for dragging her name through 
the mire, I would surrender myself and you to the 
authorities. But Justice is sometimes slow and uncer- 
tain, My plan seems the surest. I do not hold myself 
less guilty than yourself, although you were the great- 
est criminal in the beginning. However, I awoke, long 
ago, to the enormity of our crimes and would have 
endeavored to atone, in some measure, had you allowed 
me to do so. I have never been able to detect the 
slightest evidence of repentance in you. I wish it were 
possible for you to meet the fate you so richly de- 
serve, in full possession of your faculties, but I dare not 
risk it. I shall be compelled to give you a few shots 
in the arm to insure your good behavior, for I shall 
have to unbind you to make the execution appear to 
be an accident.’ Almost it seemed that he would break 
even the stout chain in his frantic struggles to escape 
the awful fate that threatened. I drove the needle in 
deliberately, and often enough to render him incapable 
of resistance. 

“I placed the tramp in the middle of the road. Then 
I lifted Immortelle into the machine, backed down the 
road some distance, came on at the rate of forty miles 
an hour or more, swerved the car as if in an effort to 
avoid running over the body of the tramp, and the next 
instant we were falling through space — down — 
down 

“You know how they picked up Immortelle, crushed 
and battered out of all semblance to his former self; 
how a tree broke my fall and they found me with my 
head and face unmarred, but with my back broken by 
the boulder I struck. Obviously, the papers all agreed, 
and I later corroborated them, that it was an accident 
due to the driver’s swerving the car sharply in an ef- 
fort to avoid running over the tramp. The most puz- 
zling feature was the presence of a woman’s footprints 
at the scene of the tragedy, a mystery which has never 
been solved! A possible solution was that the tramp 
had been struck by a hit-and-run woman motorist, who, 
finding that her car had killed the pedestrian, after 
getting out and examining him, had driven away and 
feared to report the accident. 

“Immortelle’s vast fortune will revert to the State, 
as he left no heirs. My own fortune I have left to be 
used for scientific and medical research, more espe- 
cially with regard to blood transfusion and its free and 
scientific application for the benefit of suffering hu- 
manity. 

“Sometimes as I lie here, I wonder if evil, or what ' 
we call by that name, is ever employed in the scheme 
of things for good ends. Can it be needed, like the sub- 
stance we place at the roots of flowers to cause them 
to bloom more luxuriantly and more radiantly? Well, 

I shall soon know!” he said with that prescience of 
approaching death with which I was so soon to become 
familiar on the battlefields of France. He passed away 
that night. 

Before I left him he made me promise to give his 
story to the world, believing that in proper hands, under 
scientific supervision, transftision might prove of tre- 
mendous value to humanity; that it might be employed, 
not only to rejuvenate, but to repair and remedy both 
physical and mental defects. I have done my best. As 
I have said in the beginning, I am only a mining engi- 
neer, more familiar with the symbols of mineralogy and 
chemistry than with figures of speech. 

Linnie and I both went across to France soon after 
our marriage. I remember the night we left San Fran- 
( Continued on page 574) 



570 



The Triple Ray 

( Continued from page 529) 



the infra-red ray was achieved. The cutting of this 
prism was an amazingly difficult matter, since the red 
rays must be bent through it and returned so as to ex- 
actly coincide with the course of the violet. The prism 
itself cost a small fortune, since at that time quartz was 
worth its weight in diamonds. 

In order that the lay mind as well as the scientific 
may understand, I will go a bit into detail and describe 
the X-Ray outfit, since this was of prime importance. 
The outfit itself consisted of an adjustable arm holding 
a heavy bowl made of glass and lead mixed. Two deep 
slots in the sides of this bowl were for the purpose of 
admitting the arms of the tube when it is set in the 
bowl. The tube itself has much the appearance of a 
smooth glass cabbage, with glass arms extending axis- 
wise. In the center of the tube is a spark-gap, across 
which the current jumps, striking against a tungsten 
target set to receive it at an angle of forty-five degrees. 
The X-Ray is produced by this impact and is directed 
outward at right angles to the target. 

The real success of Lucius Raymond, I am convinced, 
lay, however, in the fact that he first introduced a gase- 
ous element into the tube, which he then operated so 
instead of as a complete vacuum. What this element 
may have been I do not know, other than that it was 
subjected to a storm of radioactive particles before it 
was used. Prof. Raymond was fanatically reticent 
about this and feared inordinately that the formula 
would fall into alien hands. I do know, however, that 
at the first charge of current through the tube it 
changed from a clouded appearance to instant invisibil- 
ity, and it was my friend’s boast that thereafter he 
would defy anyone to detect its presence, let alone at- 
tempt an analysis of it. 

But though indetectable, its effect was mighty. 
Leaded glass alone could withstand its power once it 
had left the prism, and even this melted away after a 
few moments’ intense exposure to the ray so generated. 
Both he and I were elated at its success. 

But in his attempts to present this to his government 
he had to follow a long and hard bureaucratic road. It 
was either this official wasn’t interested or that one was 
away playing golf or the entire War Department was 
in a coma and didn’t give a hang. While in this last 
condition, no doubt, they finally gave Prof. Raymond an 
opportunity to demonstrate his machine. 

I can still see bluff old Admiral Ryan with his gray 
walrus mustache and twinkling eye. He was in charge 
at the Navy Yard. Lucius Raymond and I had just ar- 
rived at the proving ground. I carried the small black 
case, no bigger than a portable typewriter, which held 
his machine. 

He gave us a quizzical look and asked, “Well, where’s 
the new cannon?” 

When I held out the black case, the old man fumbled 
quickly with his mustache, which concealed, I knew, a 
wide smile. However, he led the way through the gates 
and advanced onto the wind-swept proving-ground 
beach. 

“Well, gentlemen, there’s your target,” and he swept 
his hand in a gesture toward a huge block of steel which 
was up-ended in the sand almost at the edge of the roll- 
ing Atlantic. “A sixteen-inch shell would have mighty 
hard sleddin’ to come out on the other side,” he added 
and ended sceptically, “but maybe your black case can 
go around it or over it,” and he laughed. I laughed as 
well, since I foresaw the surprise ahead of the Admiral. 



A small stone building some three hundred yards 
from the target had been fitted up as a temporary lab- 
oratory. There Lucius and I unpacked the case, con- 
nected up the tube, which was scarcely as large as those 
used for dental X-Rays, and then set the timer. 

It had taken but a few moments. “Very well, Ad- 
miral,” said Lucius. “Shall we step outside and watch? 
I have timed the automatic trigger to release in sixty 
seconds.” 

“H — m. All right,” he agreed, visibly unimpressed, 
and we passed out, with Raymond’s tall, cadaverous 
figure in direct contrast to the stocky build of the 
Admiral. Outside the building the grizzled old fellow 
took up his stand with legs planted wide apart — directly 
in front of the window-opening for the ray ! 

“My dear Admiral,” said Lucius quickly, “if you 
please! You are directly in the path of my ray. Your 
atoms are far too valuable to be freely scattered to the 
elements.” The old fellow jumped quickly and nervously 
moved aside with an embarrassed laugh. 

As he moved a tiny bell within the building tinkled. 
“In ten seconds,” Lucius said, and quietly counted 
aloud. As he reached ten a faint, burring sound came 
from within the building. 

Every eye was fastened upon the target, including 
those of a group of officers present. And I could not but 
help feeling a small gush of pure pride at my own small 
part in the Twin Ray. For immediately a tiny cloud of 
dust appeared to float from the center of the steel block 
and vanished quietly into the air, while the early morn- 
ing sun shed his first bright beams through a clean, 
round hole in the target’s face. It was easily a foot in 
diameter. 

“By Gad, sir,” gasped the Admiral, “you did it! And 
here I’ve hammered away at these targets for thirty 
years, and you turn a trick like this without batting an 
eye.” The old gentleman, in his above-board, straight- 
forward training in powder and shell, was utterly 
stunned at the subtle efficiency of the new weapon. He 
shook his head slowly and sadly. “The thing’s beyond 
me,” he said, then continuing with spirit, “Why dammit, 
it’s devilish. Suppose someone had stepped in front of 
it,” he was ludicrously indignant, “why, he’d be dead 
and nothing left to bury!” 

“Imagine a hostile army in front of it,” Prof. Ray- 
mond remarked, speaking to him in his own language. 
“A sweep from left to right, thirty seconds at most, and 
they’d be gone.” ' 

“Yes, yes, I know,” he replied, and I could see a trou- 
bled light in his eyes. “But, by Gad man, I’d never be 
the one to turn it on ’em. War is one thing. Out-and- 
out slaughter is another. If I wiped out an army that 
way, I couldn’t sleep nights afterward !” 

One couldn’t help but understand and sympathize 
with the man. In common humanity a nation could 
scarcely turn loose such a force as this other than as a 
last resort. “No, Admiral,” I broke in, “I don’t believe 
it will ever be used in that way. Our possession of it 
will become known shortly in diplomatic circles, and no 
nation will dare attack us with their obsolete bombs and 
cannon. It is, in fact, only an insurance policy against 
war.” Prof. Raymond nodded agreement with me. 

“Um. Well, yes, of course. That’s different,” mut- 
tered the old man, a trifle at sea with the innuendoes 
of international diplomacy. 

“Should the tube be stolen by an enemy,” explained 
Lucius, “it would be of little value, since it must be re- 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



571 



charged periodically with an element they cannot pos- 
sibly detect in the instrument. Within a short time 
they will find their stolen tube had become but an ineffi- 
cient X-Ray machine and would be valueless until 
charged with this gas, the formula of which is now in a 
vault at Washington.” 

The Twin Ray indeed was remarkable, but it took the 
addition of a third element added to the ultra-violet and 
infra-red rays to produce the final product called the 
Triple Ray. A current from a circuit equal in voltage 
to that used in the X-Ray tube was passed through the 
metal shield used to “sift” out the X-Rays from the 
useless visible violet rays immediately after the mixed 
stream of violet and ultra-violet rays have emerged from 
the tube itself. It is effective, since the visible rays 
cannot penetrate solids while the invisible or X-Rays 
find it no barrier to their passage. The current through 
the shield gave us, purely by accident, the amazing 
Triple Ray. 

Lucius Raymond had been using this plate in some 
experiment. I cannot now remember what, other than 
that it had no bearing on his ray work, and through an 
oversight had neglected to disconnect it before placing 
it in the machine for filtering. It was a night of un- 
usual brilliancy, both moon and stars shining brightly 
as I well remember. Through great good luck the ma- 
chine was trained through an open window, else it 
would have been our last experiment. 

W HEN Lucius turned on the “juice” in the tube, 
we both received the greatest surprise of our 
lives. An intense ray of pure white light sprang from 
the nozzle of the machine with a sound like the splitting 
of heavy canvas. To the eye it appeared no thicker 
than the filament of a seventy-five-watt electric bulb, 
but it was incomparably more brilliant. 

In the- night sky directly in the path of the ray was 
a wisp of cloud. This instantly vanished with a violet 
flame and a resounding thunderclap. 

Next day the papers mentioned the unseasonable 
thunder and lightning. And the following night sev- 
eral observatories which chanced to be trained on the 
moon discovered an apparent volcanic activity on one 
of the lunar mountain peaks. This troubled Prof. Ray- 
mond, since by careful calculations he discovered that 
it was upon this very part of our satellite that his ma- 
chine had been trained. It would appear that the ray 
had not ended its career upon destroying the cloudlet 
but had continued on into space. 

It was a matter of great interest to us to watch this 
eruption and calculate how long it would continue. But 
there has not in the past ten years been the slightest 
abatement in its activity. Such power from an ordi- 
nary lighting socket is all but unimaginable. But the 
power of the atom is quite beyond the comprehension of 
any ordinary person. Indeed, I doubt if Lucius Ray- 
mond himself ever fully realized the terrific forces with 
which he worked. 

But my friend was filled with immeasurable joy at 
his success. And I myself fully shared his elation, for 
to be even a small participant in the unraveling of the 
atom is no small accomplishment. 

Prof. Raymond proposed to retire at once to a small 
lodge in the mountains, where he often conducted in- 
vestigations which required unusual concentration, 
since he realized that to continue experiments in a 
crowded locality would endanger thousands of lives. 

At his lodge Lucius Raymond had installed an unusu- 
ally large storage battery, which was charged by utiliz- 
ing a turbulent mountain stream which flowed near by. 
This was of course indispensable to our work. 

A quality of the ray particularly puzzling to us 
both was its intense visibility. Both ultra-violet and 



infra-red are invisible, and we could not find that the 
current through the filter plate added to these should 
make them visible in the triple combination. 

The explanation was simple and, strangely enough, 
occurred to me before it did to Lucius. The ray merely 
blasted the air through which it passed, since the at- 
mosphere consists of atoms as does every other element. 
The bursting of the air atoms also accounted for the 
sharp, racketing sound which accompanied the ray. 

Still another thing which puzzled us and puzzles me 
still is the fact that the ray wouldn’t come anywhere 
near the correct figure for light velocity in the tests 
Prof. Raymond made. This was later to cause my 
friend many a sleepless night as he tossed his long 
frame uneasily in his bed, worried and apprehensive of 
the fearful force he had unloosed, and which he was 
convinced w T as to cause the destruction of the earth and 
all his fellow men. This velocity question was in fact 
the bottom reason for my friend’s alleged failure as a 
scientist. At the time, however, he did not investigate 
this phase fui’ther, as he had no accurate light-measur- 
ing instruments at the lodge to work with. 

Within a few days of our arrival at the lodge we were 
notified that the powerful X-Ray tube Lucius had or- 
dered was prepared, so accordingly I drove into the city 
and got it. We were now ready to experiment on a 
large scale. 

The first subject my friend chose was a dead tree 
upon the summit of a small mountain about three miles 
across the valley. Night was chosen as the ideal time 
for the experiment, since one could then best focus the 
sighting ray, a harmless combination of violet and 
ultra-violet, giving a silvery beam of illumination. 

The machine was focused through an open window 
of the lodge and bearing directly upon the tree. We 
ourselves went into an inner room, which had stone 
walls three feet thick, where the control switches were 
located. The Professor turned the control switch full 
into the tube and then, watching the tree from the win- 
dow, he quickly closed the switch to the plate for a frac- 
tion of a second. 

It worked! Indeed yes, it worked beautifully. The 
beam cut the air with a deafening blast, though its 
diameter was scarcely that of a twenty-five-cent piece. 
The tree vanished in a blue flash that surged straight 
up to heaven like a volcano. And close upon its going 
came a second detonation which threw me heavily 
against the wall, while Lucius grasped the window ledge 
lest he be pitched bodily through the pane. The lodge 
itself, with its granite wall-blocks grating together dis- 
agreeably, rocked as if in an earthquake. 

When the dust had cleared and I had rubbed some of 
the soreness out of a bruised shoulder, I looked and saw 
the tree was gone. But that wasn’t all. Directly be- 
yond it was a slightly higher mountain formation. The 
ray, after dispatching the tree, had not stopped, but had 
instead continued and sent the top of the small moun- 
tain into eternity! The jagged plateau that had been 
leveled still smoked and steamed as we gazed at it. The 
silver gleam of the moon cast a weird veil of unreality 
over the scene. 

Under the light of this same moon my friend land I 
immediately set out on a feverish tour of inspection. 
We found the tree had vanished without a trace, leaving 
a hole where its roots had been. The plateau-top we 
found a mass of hardening rock- and sand-lava. It was 
fast approaching the consistency of a pavement. Lucius 
Raymond pointed out across the center a narrow groove 
hollowed out as if by fire which marked the course of 
his ray, which had lifted the surrounding mass of earth 
as a swift boat will shatter a wave into fragments on 
all sides. 

The early morning sun was rising when we finally 



572 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



returned to the lodge, and while Lucius prepared break- 
fast I walked through the wood path to the nearest 
road, where the daily paper was left in our mail-box. I 
did not pause to open it on the way back, as I was fam- 
ished and the thought of food superseded all else for the 
moment. Therefore I was taken completely by surprise 
at the headlines when I sat down opposite Lucius. 
Mount Hanover the night before had blown one-third of 
its summit off into space. Great seams had opened in 
the earth for miles about its base, and a vast deluge of 
melted rock and earth lava had crept down its sides like 
wax from a guttering candle. No one could explain the 
phenomena, since Mount Hanover was not even of a re- 
motely volcanic origin. Experts were then studying 
the region to find an explanation for the explosion and 
shock which had been of super-volcanic violence and had 
even registered on the Washington seismograph. 

As I read this aloud a slow suspicion came upon me 
and, looking up, I saw a darkening expression come 
over Prof. Raymond’s face. He quickly reached into the 
table drawer for a map and, reading no more, I joined 
him in a careful study of its area. But from the first 
there was no doubt in either of our minds. It was with 
a sense of resignation that we found that a line drawn 
from our lodge through the small hill opposite would 
cut squarely into Mount Hanover at a distance of nearly 
five hundred miles. 

A S a final confirmation, I found a bit further along in 
the newspaper article that a number of folks who 
had witnessed the phenomena claimed that a strange, 
bright circle of light about a. foot in diameter had 
marked the mountainside as it exploded. Twelve inches 
would have been the approximate spread of cross- 
sectional area the beam would have made in that dis- 
tance. I could fully sympathize with Lucius’s fervent 
“Thank God!” when I read that no lives had been lost, 
since the mountain itself was entirely uninhabited. 

That was the last of the beam, since the next eleva- 
tion of land of any height was too far around the earth’s 
circumference to come in range of the ray;_ therefore 
the impulse launched itself off into space away from the 
world. 

Having at last secured an outfit adequate to measure 
light with accuracy, Lucius Raymond decided to make 
a number of tests that night. However, because of the 
destruction of the night before, he dared not focus the 
ray horizontally, so it was turned up to the heavens 
through a skylight, where it dinned and roared harm- 
lessly. At least we supposed it harmless at the time. 
We couldn’t know then what a boomerang this universe 
of power would become as we let it gush into the sky 
for hours! Hours and hours on end, when but a split 
second of its force could burst a hill and hurl a moun- 
tain! 

That night I learned from Lucius of the speed of the 
ray. The proof of it was overpowering to me, so incom- 
prehensible was its velocity. It made me know a fear 
I had never had before — the fear of a man-made mon- 
strosity. 

The Twin Ray first was measured, and we found that 
by some strange and unforeseen property of light its 
speed in this joining had been increased not once or 
twice, but by the square of its normal speed. The 
square of 186,000! One could scarcely believe it — 
34,506,000,000 miles in one second of time! 

If it was that for the Twin Ray, then what of the 
Triple 1 That has never to this day been measured, for 
there is no instrument of man’s capable of catching and 
recording its swift passage. Truly, it seems to be in 
two places at the same time, which of course is impos- 
sible. But though Lucius invented instruments of his 
own to measure as much as ten times the velocity of the 



Twin Ray, it was useless. However, I know that there 
was no shadow of doubt in Lucius’s mind but that the 
third electrical ingredient gives a speed equal to the 
square of the Twin Ray. I do not know by what mathe- 
matical process Prof. Raymond arrived at this result. 
In his more abstruse calculations I was quite unable to 
follow him, as he worked with lightning speed and com- 
plete absorption, offering no explanation of any kind as 
he worked. 

But this speed which later had so important a bearing 
upon Lucius’s peace of mind was so far beyond compre- 
hension that I will not weary you with the figures, as 
they would but string meaninglessly back and forth 
across the page and convey no impression to the mind. 
Enough to say that it would take nearly as many cen- 
turies as the world has existed for a ray of ordinary 
light to cover the distance the Triple Ray achieves in 
one second of time. 

It is my greatest regret that I was called away on 
business which has no bearing on this narrative just at 
the time Prof. Raymond first perceived the tremendous 
interstellar effect of the vast ray discharge he had 
loosed. The first intimation I received was a short note 
from him delivered at my home. Upon opening it, I 
read, “Am going at once to Dudley Observatory. Have 
been advised of interstellar phenomena which, I fear, 
are results of our experiments,” and at the bottom the 
familiar scrawled initials “L. R.” 

For some weeks I heard no more from Lucius Ray- 
mond. But ludicrously enough there appeared a great 
to-do in the meantime over an Englishman who was at- 
tempting to solve the atom. This I knew would not fail 
to catch Lucius’s eye. Surely enough, in his first letter 
following his initial note, he remarked at length about 
it, and I was surprised at the bitter tone of his words 
as well as their hopeless undertone. I will insert here 
this much, to show the harshness which from that time 
on claimed my friend’s nature. 

“Do you realize, my friend, that it is years since we 
perfected our poor little, weak Twin Ray ? I have, since 
working here at the observatory, learned that eight 
years is judged a long time between discoveries in the 
popular scientific world. I myself am indeed classed a 
failure, since no one has, of course, ever heard of the 
Triple Ray. Nor will anyone ever hear of it, save your- 
self, since while here I have made a discovery which is 
so portentous that I dare not face it myself until I have 
exhausted every experiment and possibility. 

“It has been my reluctant duty while here to attend 
several so-called ‘polite’ social functions. And I find, 
when I am introduced, the same unuttered thoughts 
predominating, ‘Poor fellow — a failure now — such a 
brilliant start — pity,’ and after I have passed they join 
in little groups of two or more for a moment to say (for 
I once inadvertently overheard such a group), ‘Yes — 
that’s the man, wonderful work — atoms — priceless war 
instrument — but burned out now,’ and they revert to 
the latest cinema sensation or divorce news. They give 
me their maudlin pity, when I alone must strive to save 
their skins from an ultimate catastrophe which I fear 
we loosed on the world that night with the ray through 
the open skylight. Damn their pity!” 

Skipping further along through his letter, I will give 
his comments on the English scientist: “ — and even 
today I saw Sir Ethan Slade’s picture in the papers 
(taken at least ten years ago from the appearance) and 
read that the King of England has given him a medal ; I 
don’t know what sort, as I have no interest in such mat- 
ters, simply for his ‘great’ work in unraveling the 
mystery of the atom. He expects shortly, by all ac- 
counts, to be in a position to release the power itself 
from the atom. I am half-minded to send him a cable- 
gram of some half dozen or so words and tell him just 



V 



THE TRIPLE RAY 



573 



how to do so. But no, that would he merely a silly ges- 
ture. Let Sir Slade follow his own course to grief or 
otherwise, as time may decide. 

“And writing of Sir Slade, I find the editorial writer 
has glibly picked up the old, worn-out phrases about 
“man harnessing nature’s forces to his will,” only this 
time it is “harnessing the atom’s forces to man’s will.” 
Rot! I will say plainly, without mincing words, neither 
Sir Slade nor any other man will do any ‘harnessing’ of 
the atom. Indeed not! The conditions will be quite 
reversed. I know.” 

One not acquainted with the man could scarcely ap- 
preciate the revolt and repulsion with which he must 
have received this public pity. It galled him bitterly, 
and his consciousness of it colored all his later years 
when he lived as a recluse, the while working feverishly 
to discover some way to allay the catastrophe which he 
was convinced threatened our earth and its people. 

My curiosity vastly aroused by his letter, I took the 
first opportunity to see my old friend and learn what 
discovery had so upset him. Of the truth of his conten- 
tions I will say nothing other than that in so far as I 
■was able to follow him in his deductions and experi- 
ments every fact tends to bear out his theory. His first 
discovery at the observatory was that the tremendous 
energy released from the mountain lodge, while he was 
attempting to measure the speed of the Triple Ray, had 
formed into an interstellar ocean of destruction, rush- 
ing madly through outer space, engulfing all matter it 
encountered and converting it into its own destructive 
nature. 

It was, indeed, in the very same lodge only a few 
days before his death that Lucius, flat on his back from 
two strokes which left him paralyzed below the waist, 
slowly and carefully explained to me fully for the first 
time the exact nature of his discoveries at Dudley. I 
will give this in his own words, since it is thus that I 
best remember what he said to me. 

“I had always suspected that those cold caverns be- 
yond the sky were not the straightforward vacuums 
they appeared to be. Had I given this a second thought 
that night, I would surely never have turned my ray 
upon them for hours as I did. I realized shortly my 
mistake. 

“Within a few days astronomers noted an epidemic 
of hitherto unsuspected dark meteors near the earth 
suddenly bursting into flame, then dying out. After 
the meteors the epidemic spread to a few dead stars 
farther on, but still in relatively close proximity to the 
earth. In all my following of the astronomers their 
observations have covered a period of more than ten 
years. And in all that time I have been able to see 
the work my ray did in the smallest, the most minute 



fraction of its first second of existence. This is because 
the light from the exploding stars has taken such a time 
in its comparatively slow pace to come back to the 
earth, the source of the ray. 

“It is for this reason that I cannot say how far in 
space the thing has traveled nor where it may be now. 
But this I do know and have proven many times over. 
The ray is traveling, not in a straight line after all, but 
instead in a closed circle, and must by every law of 
mathematics return again to its beginning. And since 
I have been able to learn by experiment that it renews 
and increases itself by that which it destroys, I have no 
particle of doubt in my mind but that upon its return 
to the earth our planet will be utterly annihilated. 

“The circle is vast, I know, for it was months after I 
first began to trace its course on an astronomical map 
that I was able to detect the slight deviation of the arc. 
It must travel the very fringes of the known stellar 
spaces where it takes light a thousand million years but 
to cross. Yet so terrific is the ray’s speed that it may 
carry it round and back, I fear, in a lifetime; perhaps 
less. And no sight of its return will give warning, since 
it precedes its own light as lightning seems to precede 
thunder. It is, in short, a natural force which will 
surely ride the universe until all active matter has come 
within its circle, as it must some time, and has been 
destroyed. And even then it will circle on when all time 
has ceased to be. Perhaps it will finally be the birth 
itself of a new and different universe. I do not know. 

“And this strange curving of a straight ray into a 
circle; how to account for it? It is but recently that a 
daring scientist advanced a theory of ‘spherical space,’ 
whereby he mathematically proved that a straight line 
extended into the heavens will finally return to its 
source, even as a straight line extended upon the surface 
of the earth will do likewise. It is, you see, the nature 
of space and is inevitable. Safety alone lies in the 
immense circumference of this spherical void occupied 
by the stellar system. 

“But I am sick to death of the sympathy of people I 
have no longer any pity for. Indeed, if I have failed, 
it is from being too successful. I have given up my 
search for an antidote to offset the ray’s return, for I 
have concluded that there is none. The thing is in- 
vincible and once started may never be stopped. It be- 
comes indestructible in its destroying power. A mad 
and unbelievable thing which nonetheless exists. I will 
not attempt to fight it longer. I am too tired. It is 
more than one man alone can do.” 

I left my friend Lucius Raymond then, with the light 
of genius burning dim in his eyes. And when I re- 
turned next day he was dead. A man whose success 
was failure, whose failure was success. 



The End 



574 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



The Black Star Passes 



By John W. Campbell, Jr. 

( Continued from, page 523) 



the void of space. Long ages it would take to make 
this trip, but they need not worry on that score. Long 
ages had already passed as their dark planet swung 
through the void, what difference if they were accom- 
panied by a dead star? 

True, the star they were to go toward was a double 

The 



star; their planet could not find orbits about it, but 
they might remedy that — they could hurl the one half 
of the star into the other, if they thought that best, 
or they might tear it completely free and make the star 
a single star. 

But they would escape this dead sun. 

End. 



A Modern Prometheus 

By Cyril G. Wates 

( Continued from page 491) 



away. As they descend the winding, flower-covered 
pathway from the Temple, the sun plunges into the 
ocean, flinging up a spray of silver stars. 

Presently they come to a spot where two mighty 
palms raise their fronded heads into the night. Between 
them, almost hidden beneath a tangle of odorous Ste- 
phanotis, lies a tablet of white ferrolith, on which, in 
letters of Florium, a simple inscription is faintly visible 
in the gloom. 



In Memory 
of 

Wahkola Kana 
Who was called Enceladus 
“He gave his life for a friend.” 

Ralph’s arm tightens around his companion. 

“He did more than that, my Flower,” he says, softly. 
“He broke the bonds of science and set the whole 
world free.” 



The End. 



Boomeranging ’Round the Moon 

By David H, Keller, M. D. 

( Continued from page 528) 



it to him at the last moment, with the comment that it 
contained some final instructions in regard to the ma- 
chinery. Tearing the seal off he read : 

“My dear Mr. Hill: 

“When you read about boomerangs, why did you 
not pay more attention to the fact that there were 
two kinds? One is a return and the other is a non- 
return. It all depends upon the curves of the sur- 
faces. Frankly, I was tired of your constantly 
being between Dorothy and myself; so, I made the 
blueprints with the shape fixed so you never would 
come back. Good-bye. I hope you have a good 
time. “As ever, Smithson.” 

“That certainly was an oversight on my part,” sighed 
Hill. “I guess I will sail around for a few years and 

The 



then die. Poor Dorothy. I am sorry I quarreled with 
her last evening. She never will know how much I 
loved her.” 

“Yes, she will!” replied a woman’s voice, and there 
was Dorothy. 

“Oh! Sweetheart!” said Hill, taking her in his arms. 
“You ought not to have done this. Smithson put the 
curves the wrong way, and we are never going to get 
back to earth again.” 

“You mean we are just going to go on — and on — and 
on by ourselves, forever — just by ourselves?” 

“Something like that.” 

“I think that will be too lovely for words, Henry,” 
said Dorothy De Loach as she held him tightly to her 
and started to kiss him. 

End. 



Dr. Immortelle 

By Kathleen Ludwick 

( Continued, from page 569) 



cisco. There was no moon. The waters of the Bay 
were like a pool of black ink in which the vari-colored 
lights of the ships were reflected. To the south, a 
huge electric sign showed blood-colored through the 
smoke of some giant smokestack where men toiled in 
the sweat of their brows “to make the world safe for 
Democracy!” 

A wisp of smoke from a passing steamer was 

The 



wrapped around the Ferry tower, almost concealing it, 
and above it the light on its summit shone like a sym- 
bol of Hope; but the Germans bombed the Red Cross 
tent where Linnie ministered to the sorely wounded! 
Although I escaped alive from the hell of the Argonne, 
I lie here almost as helpless" as Victor de Lyle when I 
saw him last, longing for the time when my soul shall 
be reunited with its mate. 

End. 



575 



Editorials from Our Readers 

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editors believe that their mission is complete when they select and edit stories that go into the making of this magazine. On the 
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magazine, and as to scientifiction in general, are not only valuable, but are original and instructive as well. For that reason it has been 
decided to print the best letter — about 500 words — which can be used as an editorial, on the editorial page and to award a prize of $50.00 
for any letter so printed. 

The letters which do not win the Quarterly prize, but which still have merit, will be printed in the “Editorials from Our Readers” 
Department, newly created in this magazine. 

Laudatory letters containing flattering remarks about the stories themselves, or of the magazine, _ are not acceptable for the editorial 
page. We want inspiring or educational letters, embodying material which can be used as an editorial along scientifiction themes. 

Remember, it is the idea that counts. A great literary effort is not necessary, as the editors reserve the right to edit all letters 
received in order to make them more presentable for publication. 

Remember, too, that anyone can enter this contest. 

This contest will end with the Winter Quarterly. Contest for next issue closes the 20th of the second month preceding date of issue 
— viz. — contest closing date for the next issue is the 20th of Novem her. 



Forecasts 

W HAT will the world be like 100 years 
from today? 

Such a question, familiar to all in these 
days of speculation concerning the future, 
was answered in a St. Louis newspaper, 
on February 19th, 1886, by an anonymous 
writer who gave a list of developments to 
be expected in that period. 

His predictions appeared incredibly wild 
to his contemporaries — but already, less 
than 50 years later, one-third of them are 
commonplace matters with us. To this ex- 
tent his list furnishes an object lesson in 
the practical value, for governments and 
corporationSi of forecasts based upon 
shrewd and rational analyses of present 
trends. 

Here is what he correctly forecast : 

( 1 ) Flying_ machines carrying heavy 
weights and freight; (2) general knowl- 
edge of world events on the day they 
occur; (3) distribution of the world’s 
news, with sound and picture, through a 
Photophone; (4) formation of a League 
of Nations (yes, that is what he called it) ; 
(5) formation of a World Court to settle 
international disputes. 

Now what did he predict that has yet to 
come true? 

(1) Abandonment of roads, made un- 
necessary by aerial transportation; (2) 
aerial mail delivery by parachute at each 
door, and the elimination of post offices ; 
(3) houses built of paper and equipped 
with aluminum and glass ; (4) easy com- 
munication with other planets; (5) 94 
states in the United States, stretching from 
Panama to Alaska; (6) complete abolition 
of standing armies; (7) amendment of the 
Constitution so that Congress meets once 
every ten years, and can pass no laws 
which may not be repealed immediately; 
(8) extension of average length of life to 
eighty years, with some individuals living 
to be 200 or over; (9) evolution of ani- 
mals so that dogs may be made to think ; 
(10) elimination of vagabondage with 
even.’ one contributing to society. 

These two lists are interesting objects 
of study. 

In general, any forecaster is on sure 
grcund in predicting inventive develop- 
ments, for such developments seem to be 
limitless. The incidental effects of such 
inventions, however, are problematical. Our 
St. Louis writer correctly predicted aerial 
transportation — but his enthusiasm unbal- 
anced his good sense w’hen he anticipated 
delivery of mail by parachute! And al- 
though roads may be abandoned some day, 
it is doubtful if another hundred years, 
even, will find them entirely discarded. 

When, however, any would-be fore- 
caster begins dealing with government or 
politics, he should go cautiously, for, while 
each new invention Or discovery in the 
field of material research results in two 
others, which in turn give rise to four, 
and so on, yet such) a condition is not a 
characteristic of any\society known to his- 

l , - 



tory. It is obvious to any casual student 
that the science of government has not 
improved in the same degree as the facility 
with which new inventions may be per- 
fected. 

Even more egregrious errors are made 
when the forecaster, carried away by a 
commendable — and, one may hope, justi- 
fiable — enthusiasm for the future of the 
race, predicts favorable developments in 
man’s physical, mental and social nature. 
Even more remote, than in the fields of 
politics or government are the chances that 
predictions of such nature will come to 
pass within less than centuries. New in- 
ventions, new chemical combinations, have 
a direct commercial value that every man 
with money to invest is eager to promote, 
and these discoveries find direct and im- 
thediate application. 

Improved laws, or beneficial changes in 
government are sometimes made after over- 
coming public inertia or private greed, but 
even then it is sometimes a matter of dec- 
ades before it is certain whether or not 
they really do represent advances. But 
changes in the actual physical and mental 
constitution of mankind have in the past 
required long ages to take place — or else 
some fundamental alteration of environ- 
ment, diet, or habits of living. Would the 
mere knowledge of the good results from 
such alteration produce the change? Not 
necessarily! Diphtheria anti-toxin will in 
time wipe out that dread disease of child- 
hood — but there are innumerable parents 
who, because of religious sensibilities, fear, 
or merely slackness, keep this protection 
from their children. 

Human beings are, according to their 
several natures, mean, lazy, noble, indus- 
trious, kindly, cruel, savage, mild. Thus 
they have been for uncounted ages, and 
thus they will remain for ages to come 
unless — what ? 

A year or two ago a magazine writer 
hazarded the query whether the age of 
superdevelopment in mechanical and ma- 
terial matters would not be succeeded by 
an equally astonishing development of ex- 
periment, knowledge and achievement along 
lines of human betterment — of the rela- 
tions of one man to another, in every as- 
pect of his daily life. 

This is an arresting thought. The age 
of the Romans was one of conquest and 
consolidation. When the world finally re- 
adjusted itself after their empire had 
crashed, its energies were absorbed in dis- 
covering and developing new lands in an 
age of exploration. The age of invention 
followed — and now perhaps we are about 
to enter the age of humanity. But it will 
take the entire energies of our civiliza- 
tion, now bent with every fibre to the 
conquest of matter in all its material 
forms, to achieve the slightest victory in 
the war on “man’s inhumanity to man.” 

And if this writer may be allowed a 
prediction of his own, it will not be until 
the problem of universal, inexhaustible, 




free-as-air power is solved, that the full 
force of the genius of mankind will be de- 
voted to solving the even more difficult 
problem of guaranteeing “life, liberty and 
the pursuit of happiness” to every living 
creature. And whether that day dawns 
soon or late, in one decade (as it might) 
or in ten times ten decades, dawn it will, 
unless the folly of man shall have plunged 
his own civilization into wrack and ruin 
by the cleverness of his creative genius. 

Frederick M. Clouter, 

104 Greaton Road, 
West Roxbury, Mass. 

Ad Astra Per Aspera 
“OILENT upon a peak in Darien,” 
O stout Balboa, the pioneer, gazed upon 
an undreamed-of heritage vaster and of 
greater variety that the boldest mind could 
have realized, and so it is with the whole 
v/orld today. We have a great and high 
destiny before us, a realm of power and 
splendor of which we know but the bor- 
der, the resources of which we cannot 
guess, any more than the Piltdown man 
visualized television, or the luminous crea- 
tures of the ocean deeps think of the 
glories of the upper world actually above 
them. More than to any other branches of 
literature, with their tales of past and 
present, the future is the happy-hunting- 
ground of scientifiction. It has a dual pur- 
pose, that of warning against misuse of 
power and that of pointing the way — 
to the stars though the way be rough. It 
is unfortunate, however, that so many 
authors of scientifiction seem to revel in 
the grotesque, in wars, in the unbeautiful, 
in absurd caricatures of men, in a wider 
scope for brutality. Surely, the aim of 
scientifiction, should be the dissemination 
of idealistic hope, as well as the warning. 
And even those who gratify our eternal 
springs of hope with Utopias, still con- 
fine them to limited areas, to remote 
distances and other restrictions. There 
is a legend that far away is a great rock, 
a cube of one hundred miles, upon which, 
once in a thousand years, a little bird wipes 
its beak. When the rock is worn away, an 
instant of time has elapsed. Since the 
earliest dawn of civilization, the rock has 
been visited ten times. Undeniably in that 
short time many evils born of ignorance 
have been eradicated, and many ideals real- 
ized by knowledge. It is not unreasonable to 
expect this to continue, accelerating 
even, until the rock is worn away, then 
will the ultimate star of our heritage be 
attained. Therefore let us have stories 
of hope, not for bounded localities or dis- 
tant worlds, but for the whole of our own 
planet and every individual upon it, when 
the time comes. Let us have stories of the 
science which shall achieve this, let us 
have stories of beauty, romance, and peace, 
let us always keep as our watchword, “Ad 
Astra Per Aspera To the stars, though 
the way be rough. 

Howard M. Stabbs, 

Inwood, Manitoba, Canada. 




576 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



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The 

Most Interesting 
Evening 
I Ever Spent 



U 



P TILL 9 o’clock the party 
was a complete flop. Then 
Tom walked in, Tom’s a live 
wire, if there ever was one. 

He said he’d heard about a one- 
man show anyone could perform 
with the help of a book he knew 
about. He had sent for that book, 
and said he was going to put on the 
show. 

We thought he was joking and laughed 
at him, but he sat us all down in the 
living room, got out a pack of old playing 
cards, and started to do things that made 
our eyes pop out of our heads. 

For over 2 hours he made those play- 
ing cards almost talk. What he could do 
with those cards just didn’t seein human. 
After it was all over, the gang all 
crowded, around, shaking his hand, and 
patting him on the back. The girls all 
said, “Oh, Tom ! You’re wonderful !” It 
was by far the most interesting evening 
I had ever spent. 

I asked him how he learned it all. For 
answer he pulled out a shiny new . quar- 
ter, and said that one just like it had 
taught him every trick he had showed us. 

And it was a fact! Tom had simply 
enclosed a quarter with the coupon below, 
and gotten Walter Gibson’s Famous Book 
of Popular Card Tricks by return mail. 
. You, too, can entertain yourself and your 
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No sleight of hand is necessary — no hard 
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MAIL COUPON BELOW! 



Radio-Science Publications, Inc. 

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I enclose 25c (in stamps or coin) in full 
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sent me by return mail. 



Name 



Street and No. 
City . 



State 



Y our Viewpoint 



Notes on the Spring Quarterly 

Editor, Amazing Stories Quarterly: 

As a regular reader of Amazing Stories since 
No. 1 of Vol. 1 first made its appearance, I am 
for the first time submitting my opinions.. The 
first part of the above sentence is sufficient proof 
that my general opinion is exceedingly favorable, 
although I have my pet peeves and partialities. 

I have just finished the Spring Quarterly, so I 
will confine my criticisms to it. Incidentally, these 
criticisms are purely personal ideas, as my scien- 
tific knowledge closely approaches zero as a limit. 

"After 12,000 Years” certainly adds nothing 
to the good reputation of Mr. Coblentz as an 
author. After a fair start, he drops the scientific 
side entirely, leaving merely an old plot, poorly 
held together. It makes a poor foundation for his 
satire of possible evolution from the present types. 

Apparently there has been no advance in science 
outside of the entomological field, except for 
skipped over mention of tide harnessing machinery 
and the description of their vehicles. That, and 
the illogically operating machines for testing the 
body, are even worse than Wells in "The Sleeper 
Awakes.” Considering the present trend of power 
and engineering toward electricity .and its kindred 
forces, I can not imagine the general use of internal 
combustion engines of a type apparently but 
slightly advanced from the present, even 1,200 
years hence, much less 12,000. But I*m wasting 
time. My summary is simply that the story is 
entirely unworthy of its author. 

"Locked Worlds” is rather unique, offers many 
possibilities and could have an interesting sequel. 

"The Cry From the Ether” is excellent, though 
I hesitate to call it better than “The Beast-Men 
of Ceres.” Too bad Septama is only human, for 
with his present quality I could read much more 
than he could write, and I venture to say that I 
share the general opinion. 

"The City of Eric” is quite good and should 
produce some really interesting sequels. 

The only small flaw which I shall mention is 
not in the stories, but in the comment upon our 
(readers’) opinions. 

It is rather amusing to note in the comment on 

the letter of Clifton that the Editor says 

in closing, "However, there is one remark we 
must make which is that science is advancing, 
changing from day to day, so you should not be 
so positive in your points of view.” On the next 
page, answering the letter of Donald G. Allen, 
and speaking of making artificial diamonds, he 
concludes with: . . and certainly one of any 

size could not be made artificially.” Considering 
the nature of the subject, it is quite apparent that 
"at present” and "can” should be substituted for 
"certainly” and "could,” even without his own 
previous admonition. 

This is enough for one waste basket, so I’ll sign 
off after asking what has happened to the authors 
of "The Moon Pool” and "Skylark of Space,” the 
two best stories youl have ever published? 

Robert S. McCready, 

3120 Warder St., N. W., Washington, D. C. 

(This letter speaks for itself. We only have to 
say about the making of a large diamond artificially 
that the word "could” takes care of the state- 
ment just as well as the amended version which 
you suggest. Under present conditions of knowl- 
edge, a large diamond cannot be made artificially. 
The word "could” is not a future auxiliary. There 
are many more stories coming by the authors you 
like. — Editor.) 



Suggestion About Artists 

Editor, Amazing Stories Quarterly: 

I have just finished reading the Summer edition 
of youcr Amazing Stories Quarterly.. I have 
no complaints to make. The paper used was very 
good and helped make Amazing Stories better. 
Just a word about your art staff. I noticed several 
drawings in the Quarterly by different artists, 
but none by Paul. 

I would like to suggest to you that you try and 
procure the services of: 

John Richard Flanagan, the illustrator of "The 
Day the World Ended” in Colliers Weekly. I 
ara sure that you will like his work. 

D. Friedman, 

675 E. 170th St., New York, N. Y. 

(We are . delighted to hear criticisms of our 
different artists. We are gradually getting to- 
gether a staff of men whose work we believe will 



do justice to the very excellent literary produc- 
tions of our authors. The many letters we receive 
tell us that Amazing Stories is liked by our 
readers. They like the illustrations and the 
general get-up of the magazine, so we will be 
very slow about making any change except when 
we feel assured that it is for the better.— -Editor.) 



A Lot of Criticism of the Cover 
Illustration of the Quarterly 

Editor, Amazing Stories Quarterly; 

I take the attitude of lots of the readers who 
write you in regard to the cover of Amazing 
Stories. I think I can tell you exactly what it is 
that they want in a cover. My experience as a 
newspaper and magazine editor, student and a 
reader of your magazine puts me in a little better 
position to explain myself than most readers, I 
presume. 

I find that I, and the other average persons want 
art, color, and the medium combination in a cover. 
They are with a cover on this type of a magazine 
a3 they are with a lady: In a lady, they admire 

color, combination, and just enough flapperish to 
sweeten ’em: in Amazing Story magazine, they 
want color, combination, and just enough gaudi- 
ness or loudness to sweeten it. 

Looking at the magazine from the street show 
window, if one’s not acquainted with the high-class 
articles inside, one naturally thinks that he’s run- 
ning into a cheap brand of hair-raising articles cov- 
ering crafty murders, and amazing stories of life, 
not so much advanced from the "Diamond Dick” 
and his day class. 

Yes: I think as some of your readers: The 

cover doesn’t give credit to the high class scien- 
tifiction inside. The class of people who read this 
magazine are conservative business men. students, 
knowledge-thirsty youths, scientists and the deeper 
and saner men of the world. They don’t want 
something too bizarre or gaudy-looking when they 
purchase a magazine to be used and seen in their 
offices and homes. 

I am herewith enclosing some pen and pencil 
sketches to better illustrate just what I mean and 
just what I think the cover-complaining readers, 
■who have written about the matter, mean. 

I’ve been a little exacting in the drawing of 
number one, but I think the coloring and ornaments 
help the eye to grasp the whole thing better. With 
a three or four colored picture similar to some of 
the late editions of the magazine, with a two color 
name-plate across the top, and with the authors’ 
names in black or dark color on a white background 
I think you would have a combination of beauty and 
art to please anyone. Just the little matter of giv- 
ing a margin between the edge of cover and pic- 
ture robs a cover of some of its "cheap” look. 

I think a vote of your readers would show pos- 
sibly 75 per cent, favoring the word "Scientifiction” 
prominently displayed with the regular head. 
"Scientifiction” would be a far better name for the 
magazine, but it’s now too late to fret about that — 
and I’m supposed to be "suggesting” covers only. 

Change of prominent colors; from a vivid hue 
one month to a somber or milder hue, or even dark 
featured, the next month — in connection with a 
few permissible movements and changes of forms 
— would give a very vivid and pleasing individual- 
ity to each month’s cover. 

A big change could be made by shifting a little. 
Another noticeable difference could be made by 
putting the names of authors on white margin below 
"cut” and using all of upper space for picture or 
"cut” — and giving it a generous margin all around. 

I feel that such a change as I’ve penned here 
would give your readers just about what they 
want. I am the average reader and that’s what 
I want. 

I hope these suggestions are accepted in just 
the mutual way I have offered them. 

N. E. Knapp, 
Alliance, Nebraska. 

(We have an excellent staff of artists and they 
are personally interested in the particular type of 
work, which Amazing Stories exacts. Your 
sketches are very interesting and suggestive. The 
primary idea of the cover is to, attract the eye of 
the observer, who is looking at the multitude or 
magazines displayed on the news-stands. The 
greatest attention is given to the art value of the 
work, and it is criticized vigorously before ac- 
ceptance. You have probably noticed that our 
covers of recent issues Lave been far from lurid 
or gaudy in coloring. The illustrations on th